Mining should be barred in 40% of India's forests: Forest Survey report

Environment ministry is yet to act upon report; coal block report hasn't been implemented either

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi December 29, 2016 Last Updated at 00:40 IST

Over Forty per cent of India’s existing forest cover should be kept safe from mining of all sorts, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has calculated based on parameters the government set for it to secure green areas of the country. The report, submitted in August 2016, has not yet been acted upon by the Union environment, forests and climate change ministry, while it continues to give piece­meal approval to proposals for mining coal and other minerals across the country. Business Standard reviewed the report submitted by the FSI to the ministry in August.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/mining-should-be-barred-in-40-of-india-s-forests-forest-survey-report-116122800727_1.html

FAC considered diversion of 4377 ha on 26 December 2016

FAC considered diversion of 4377 ha on 26 December 2016          

Serious delays in sharing of agenda by MoEF&CC

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has considered diversion of 4377 ha of forest in its meeting on 26 December 2016 as per the agenda issued on 20 December 2016.

Maximum diversion is proposed for mining amounting to 90 per cent (3952 ha) of the total. Odisha leads among states with maximum diversion proposed followed by Chhattisgarh.

Sector-wise area proposed for diversion

Sr. No.

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

%Proposals

1

Mining

3952

90.29

17

85

2

Wind Power

353

8.0674

2

10

3

Others

72

1.645

1

5

-

Total

4377

100

20

100

 

State and Sector-wise area proposed for diversion

Sr No

State

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

% Proposals

1

Chhattisgarh

Mining

1294.474

29.574

7

35

2

Maharashtra

Mining

153.09

3.4976

1

5

3

Orissa

Mining

2354.941

53.803

8

40

4

Rajasthan

Mining

149.3002

3.411

1

5

5

Gujarat

Wind Power

297.38

6.7942

1

5

6

Andhra Pradesh

Wind Power

55.73

1.2732

1

5

7

Karnataka

Others

72.177

1.649

1

5

-

Total

-

4377.092

100

20

100

*Out of 27 projects 20 have been considered for review. Left out seven projects are already granted stage I /II clearance and appearing for issues to be sorted out. (Please refer status column in the list annexed below)

 

The ministry has put out one agenda on 19 December 2016. There were several problems with this agenda. There were 25 proposals but documents links were given for 4 proposals only. The title of proposals were incomplete (no mention whether it a renewal of lease or stage I /II clearance already granted or a new proposal).

The present agenda on 20 December do have links to documents but the tiles of the proposals on the face of it are not clear. Secondly, two more proposals are added.  There are 27 proposals to be discussed in one day i.e. on an average, 15 minutes for each proposal! Also, this gives just 4-5 days to review the proposals to provide comments to the Committee by public spirited concerned persons.

There are several issues /delays with sharing of FAC agenda and documents related to proposals by  MoEF&CC.

For example, the ministry had announced the FAC meeting for 12 December 2016 without agenda being made available! EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC) strongly protested against it and pointed out to MoEF, ‘ERC has not carried out rapid review of some proposals on the agenda of the FAC meeting and is unable present issues and suggestions for your consideration as the agenda for a meeting on 12 Dec 2016 has not been announced even on 8 December 2016! Furthermore, 10-11 December is weekend.  To say the least this is mischievous.’ It seems because of the representation of ERC and probably pressure of some independent members of FAC, better sense prevailed and MoEF&CC postponed the meeting.

 

Late putting up of agenda of FAC meetings has been happening for last few months and things are getting more and more difficult.  ERC highlighted the issue of the agenda being put in public domain very late in some of its representations. For example, for the meeting on 9-10 November 2016, the agenda was put in public domain on 5 November only. Secondly, new proposals were quietly added to the agenda subsequently on 7 November!

 

Ethically and morally, members of FAC should protest this attitude of the Ministry and recommend action against the officials responsible for the situation. Agenda should be uploaded at least 10 days in advance with relevant documents made available.

 

Pushp Jain & Terence Jorge

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi - 110 048. India Web : ercindia.org;

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LIST OF PROJECTS

Agenda of the meeting is available at

http://ercindia.org/index.php/latest-updates/upcoming-events

SI No.

File no.

Name of the Proposal / Agenda Item

State

Area (ha)

Category

View Documents

Status

1

8-ORA105/2006-FCD

DIVERSION OF GANDHAMARDAN BLOCK 'A' MINES IN KEONJHAR FOREST DIVISION IN FAVOUR OF M/S ORISSA MINING CORPORATION LIMITED

ORISSA

216.3617

MINING

Click On

Granted Stage I FC-17 FEB 2009

2

8-55/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF 75.055 HA. MAHAN-II OPEN CAST COAL MINE

CHHATTISGARH

75.055

MINING

Click On

New

3

8-21/2016-FC

DIVERSION 297.38 HA OF FOREST LAND FOR CONSTRUCTION OF WIND POWER PROJECT BY SRIJAN ENERGY SYSTEMS PVT. LTD.

GUJARAT

297.38

WIND POWER

Click On

New

4

8-53/2016-FC

84.464 HA. REVENUE FOREST LAND IN THE VILLAGE CHILHATI, GODADIH, BELHA, SUKULKARI, TEHSIL-MASTURI, DISTRICT-BILASPUR (C.G.)

CHHATTISGARH

84.464

MINING

Click On

New

5

8-25/2012-FC

DIVERSION OF 55.73 HA OF FOREST LAND IN RAMGIRI (EAST & WEST) RF OF ANANTHAPUR DIVERSION FOR ESTABLISHING 40.00 MW WIND POWER PROJECTS- IN FAVOUR OF M/S SARJAN REALITIES LTD., HYDERABAD.

ANDHRA PRADESH

55.73

WIND POWER

Click On

New

6

8-57/2016-FC

OJASWI MARBLE & GRANITE PVT LTD

RAJASTHAN

149.3

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

7

8-35/2016-FC

MINING LEASE IN F/O SHRI RUDRASEN SINDHU M/S ROHTAK ENGINEERING COMPANY (MAGANESE).

ORISSA

44.954

MINING

Click On

Stage I FC

8

8-60/2016-FC

BAINIBASA GRAPHITE MINE.

ORISSA

44.038

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

9

8-36/2016-FC

SAGASAHI IRON & MANGANESE MINES.

ORISSA

363.436

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

10

8-50/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF FOREST LAND IN SIDHAMATH RESERVE FOREST IN FAVOUR OF DR. SAROJINI PRADHAN FOR IRON AND MANGANESE ORE MINING.

ORISSA

94.259

MINING

Click On

Stage I FC

11

8-56/2016-FC

KALAPARBAT IRON & MANGANESE ML AREA OF DR.SAROJINI PRADHAN.

ORISSA

146.545

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

12

8-62/2016-FC

KODINGAMALI BAUXITE.

ORISSA

428.075

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

13

8-63/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF FOREST LAND OVER 152.591 HA. IN TALANGI-B CHROMITE MINING LEASE OF IDCOL.

ORISSA

152.591

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

14

8-59/2016-FC

PROPOSAL FOR DIVESION OF 806.153 HA OF FOREST LAND IN BONAI AND KOENHAR FOREST DIVISION IN ODISHA FOR IRON ORE MINING BY NILACHAL ISPAT NIGAM LTD.

ORISSA

806.153

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

15

8-31/2016-FC

KHANDBANDH IRON ORE MINE.

ORISSA

176.01

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

16

8-68/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF 50.00 HA. MINE CLOSURE PLAN OF METABODELI IRON ORE DEPOSIT IN KANKER DISTRICT OF CHHATTISGARH IN FAVOUR OF M/S JAYASWAL NECO INDUSTRIES LTD.

CHHATTISGARH

57

MINING

Click On

Stage I FC

17

8-69/2016-FC

IRON ORE MINING IN FAVOUR OF M/S IND SYNERGY LIMITED IN HAHALDDI RANGE, BHANUPRATAPPUR (EAST) FOREST DIVISION.

CHHATTISGARH

314

MINING

Click On

Stage I FC

18

8-64/2016-FC

CHHOTEDONGAR IRON ORE MINES.

CHHATTISGARH

66.02

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

19

8-71/2016-FC

PATHRAI BAUXITE MINES.

CHHATTISGARH

99.35

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

20

8-72/2016-FC

BAILADILA IRON ORE MINE DEP-4 PROJECT OF NMDC LTD., BHANSI VILLAGE DANTEWADA DIST SOUTH BASTAR CG.

CHHATTISGARH

665.23

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

21

8-66/2016-FC

RASULI IRION ORE MINES.

CHHATTISGARH

220

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

22

8-67/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF 413.745 HA OF FOREST LAND FOR BAILDILA IRON ORE MINING PROJECT IN FAVOUR OF M/S NMDC LIMITED IN DANTEWADA FOREST DIVISION IN DANTEWADA DISTRICT OF CHHATTISGARH - REG. (IRON ORE).

CHHATTISGARH

413.745

MINING

Click On

Stage I FC

23

8-38/2015-FC

PROPOSAL FOR GRANTING OF PERMISSION UNDER FC ACT 1980 TOWARDS RE-GRANT OF KHARSANG PETROLEUM MINING LEASE (PML), COVERING 9.94 SQ KM (ORIGINALLY PROPOSAL 11.00 SQ KM) IN CHANGLANG, DISTRICT OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

994

MINING

 

Regrant

24

8-58/2016-FC

LAND DIVERSTION FOR RCU BELAGAVI

KARNATAKA

72.177

OTHERS

Click On

New Allocation of fresh forest land (Form-A)

25

8-61/2016-FC

GOPANI IRON & POWER (INDIA) PVT. LTD.

MAHARASHTRA

153.09

MINING

Click On

New application under section 2 (iii)

26

8-87/1996-FC VOL

BOLANI ORES MINES (6.90 SQ.MILE ML) OF SAIL, DIST: KEONJHAR ODISHA

ORISSA

238.093

MINING

Click On

New fresh allocation of forest land

27

8-70/2016-FC

CAPTIVE LIME STONE MINES (AREA 299.751 HEC) SKS ISPAT & POWER LIMITED.

CHHATTISGARH

84.474

MINING

Click On

New

More than 10,000 hectare forest land diverted in 2016

 

 

AESHA DATTA

 

Around 90 pre cent of the forest land has been diverted for mining activities and eight per cent for wind power

Environmentalists question Ministry’s lack of transparency

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 27:  

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) on Monday approved proposals to divert over 4,300 hectares of forest land — mostly for mining purposes. With this the total area of forest land approved for diversion in 2016 is 10,000 hectare.

Till August, the FAC had recommended diversion of 4,108 hectare; in November it considered proposals to divert 7,419 hectare; while in the latest meeting it approved diversion of 4,377 hectare. The actual diversion of forests, however, is a much larger figure, as these are the projects involving more than 40 hectare of land.

Environmentalists, however, are contesting not just the diversion of forests, but also the cat and mouse game involved in doing so. They also point towards lack of transparency in functioning of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

The government, according to the non-governmental organisation EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC), which monitors and assesses environmental impact assessment processes, the agenda for FAC meetings, which were earlier announced more than a week in advance, are now announced closer to the dates, making it difficult for environmentalists to review the proposals and present the issues, if any.

Pushp Jain, Director of ERC, said, “The FAC is trying to be mischievous. Previously they used to put up the agenda 10-15 days before the meetings. Now they put up the agenda on the public platform 3-4 days before the meetings. Further, some major projects are added to the agenda at the last minute without intimation. For example, in November the Ken-Betwa project was added to the agenda at the last minute.”

The agendas, when published, also lack information such as document links for the proposals, Jain said.

“There were several problems with this agenda (published on December 19). There were 25 proposals but documents links were given for four proposals only. The title of proposals were incomplete (no mention whether it is a renewal of lease or stage I /II clearance already granted or a new proposal),” ERC said in a statement.

In its meeting on Monday, 90 per cent of the forest land diversion has been recommended for mining sector, while about eight per cent has been approved for wind power sector. Of the mining projects, the FAC has recommended diversion of 75 hectare forest land for the Mahan-II open cast coal mine in Chhattisgarh.

“The question is why is this forest being diverted at all. The government’s own report says there is no need for further coal capacity addition,” Jain added.

Environmentalists have also been contesting the Mahan-II mine, which, they say is located in a biodiversity rich area home to several protected species, such as leopards, sloth bears and elephants.

 

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/economy/article9446498.ece

Top environment stories of 2016

Our environmental indices may be at an all-time low, but the stories of victory in the year gone by create hope for the coming year

As the year draws to a close, it is only fitting that we take stock, draw up lists—of what worked in 2016 and what didn’t. And to end the year and my last column, perhaps it is best to recall what is working for the environment and the natural world. Our environmental indices may be at an all-time low, but the stories of victory in the year gone by create hope for the coming year.

1. Victory for Standing Rock

For several months, Native American tribes and their allies, led by the Standing Rock Sioux, have been protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline, a project that would transport oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana across the plains to Illinois. The protesters had argued that the pipeline would desecrate ancestral lands, threaten the water supply, and unfairly burden the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is unlikely to benefit from any economic development that accompanies the project. The tribe won a major victory when the Department of the Army announced that it would not allow the pipeline to be drilled under a dammed section of the Missouri river. The site had become a global flash point for environmental and indigenous activism, drawing thousands of people, creating hope for many such battles that are being fought around the world.

2. Battle for clean air in Indian cities

“We’ve only just begun” may perhaps be the best way to summarize this battle, especially at a time when the Air Quality Index is touching alarming new highs in most cities across India. But look at it this way: what environmentalists have been harping on for years, finally has the attention of the politicians, the common man/woman on the street and yes, once in a while, the 9pm television debates. While scientists are still debating whether the odd-even formula will bring down pollution levels, here’s what this scheme has succeeded in doing: it has made sure that air pollution as an issue has occupied centre stage. In a city known for its flashy cars and political connections, the citizens of Delhi, for the first time in 2016, embraced the inconvenient experiment in the hope that it would bring down air pollution. The good news is that more and more citizens are willing to come forward to tackle air pollution, but will this be enough? This is the space to watch in 2017.

3. A proactive green tribunal

At a time when the government is trying to dilute environment laws, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), through a series of orders in 2016, restored our faith—that there is a redressal mechanism in the country. In a number of landmark decisions, the tribunal stepped in when all else failed. This year it suspended the environmental clearance to a hydropower project in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh on the ground that both the environmental impact assessment report and the project developers did not disclose that an endangered bird (the black-necked crane) inhabited the region.

In another strong order, the NGT asked for a slew of measures, with time-bound targets, to be taken to tackle air pollution in Delhi. At a time when the centre and state governments were playing politics on who is to blame for pollution in the National Capital Region, the NGT orders helped fix responsibility with clear targets for each stakeholder.

The same tribunal ordered a temporary halt to the construction of a steel flyover in Bengaluru that would have led to the destruction of 800 trees and heritage buildings in the city.

4. The creation of the world’s biggest protected area

At a global level, US President Barack Obama created the largest ecologically protected area on the planet when he expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to encompass more than half a million square miles. With this one order, the US president succeeded in creating the largest swath of protected land or water on Earth, an area roughly twice the size of Texas. Many scientists and environmentalists have argued for more stringent protections for this biologically rich region already under threat from climate change and deep-sea mining.

5. New species continue to be discovered

The discovery of new species every year is a gentle reminder of just how little we know about the natural world. This year too had its share of discoveries—an African damselfly, a ruby sea dragon in Australia, a new species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos in Ecuador and a sundew plant that oozes mucus to trap insects, found on just one mountain in Brazil.

Of course the idea behind this list is not to create a rose-tinted picture of the times we live in. Never before have so many species been lost and never before have our air and water been pounded with so many toxic chemicals. Yet we soldier on, with the sweet memory of the small victories.

As the year draws to an end, what is important to remember is that people have come together to fight for clean air, forests or wildlife, however insurmountable the battle may have seemed. May 2017 bring you clean air and lots of time spent in green spaces.

Bahar Dutt is a conservation biologist who has been writing for Mint for the last two years. This is her last column

 

http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/rzTBh97QbgAELiF1v2nG2L/Top-environment-stories-of-2016.html

Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority constituted for 2 months!

 

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has issued a Notification dated 14th December, 2016 (S.O. 4040 (E) under sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for constitution of the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority(CWRA) .

The Authority include Secretary, MoEF&CC and representatives of several ministries, and few external members e.g. Dr. Asad R. Rahmani, Senior Scientific Adviser, Bombay Natural History Society, Prof. C.K. Varshney (Retd.), Dr. E.J. James, Director (Retd.), Water Institute, Karunya University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

It is mysterious that the term of the Authority is only two months. Is it just to temporarily meet the obligation of National Green Tribunal which on 6 December 2016 (in Pushp Jain vs UoI & others (Original Application 560 of 2015)) directed the CWRA to meeting 21 December and consider proposals of wetlands for notification?

 

Click here

 

Pushp Jain

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi - 110 048

Web : ercindia.org;

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.