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MoEF panel turns down clearance for Rasuli iron mine in Chhattisgarh

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has not recommended forest clearance for the Rasuli iron ore mine of Navbharat Fuse Co Ltd in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, as the mine falls in very dense forest area in the Bailadila mountain range.FAC is an apex panel of the MoEF&CC that appraises projects that seek diversion of forests for non-forestry purposes. The mining project required diversion of 220 hectares of pristine forest land rich in biodiversity.During its meeting on December 20, the FAC noted that the state government, which had allotted the mine in 2009, had conveyed to the company its rejection of the proposal and even the ministry’s regional office did not recommend clearance upon site inspection. On these grounds, the FAC decided against recommending the project for clearance under Forest Conservation Act, minutes of the FAC meeting showed.The Rasuli iron ore mine was one among 10 leases that the state government had allotted to private companies in 2009. The mine had a reserve of 9.4 million tonnes of iron ore that was to be provided for captive use in the company’s sponge iron plant in Jagdalpur. The company had retained the mine under section 10A (2) (c) of the amended Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act.The FAC noted that the forest land proposed for diversion is part of a stand-alone hill range running north to south. “The overall landscape of the area indicates area proposed for lease constitutes the part of extension of Bailadila mountain range. The extension of the said mountain range runs over a distance of more than 100 km in Dantewada, Bijapur, Kanker, Balod, and Rajnandgaon districts of Chhattisgarh…the area has high landscape integrity value,” the FAC minutes stated.The average density of the forest is approximately 0.7 to 0.8 SDI, and it is estimated that more than 90,000 trees stand across 220 hectares. “Removal of such a large number of trees over an area of 220 ha will certainly have an adverse impact on the local environment. The area proposed under the lease forms the immediate catchment of local nallah…opening of the area and removal of the trees will also disturb the existing water regime of the area,” the minutes added.Why not allowed The Rasuli iron ore mine of Navbharat Fuse Co Ltd in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, as the mine falls in very dense forest area in the Bailadila mountain range. The average density of the forest is approximately 0.7 to 0.8 SDI, and it is estimated that more than 90,000 trees stand across 220 hectares.

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Govt resumes clearance of Saranda cases

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under a moratorium of sorts for the past four years, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has resumed appraisal and clearance of iron ore mining projects in the Saranda forest division, Jharkhand, home to rich Sal forests, vast reserves of iron ore and over 200 elephants.In light of the findings of Justice MB Shah inquiry commission on illegal mining in Saranda, MoEFCC had frozen the clearance process for mines in the region and even clearances granted prior to the commission’s findings. The findings also prompted the Central Bureau of Investigation to initiate a probe into the forest clearances granted for private mining companies.Based on Shah commission’s findings, MoEFCC commissioned two major studies, one to assess the carrying capacity of the forest for annual ore production and one on wildlife management.The ministry recently accepted recommendations from these studies and finalised a mining plan for the Saranda region, official documents confirmed. This plan does not include ‘go, no-go zones’ and appraisal of projects would be done on a case-to-case basis, Ajay Narayan Jha, secretary, MoEFCC told DNA.Following this plan’s approval, the ministry’s statutory expert body, Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), has already given an in-principal approval for Steel Authority of India’s (SAIL) Jhillingburu – I mine that will require 210.56 hectares of forest. The FAC has granted approval with general, standard and specific conditions including a condition to place the project before the National Board for Wildlife for a wildlife clearance as it is located in the core of Singhbum elephant reserve.”The state government shall ensure that various mines are worked in such a way that the required elephant corridors and vegetation zones are maintained without any disturbances,” one of the specific conditions said.

Seven Indian fishermen detained by Sri Lankan Navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Seven Indian fishermen along with two boats were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy near Neduntheevu Island in the Palk Strait area on Thursday morning. The detained fishermen have been taken to Kankesanthurai port of Jaffna District in Sri Lanka for investigations. On July 9, three Indian fishermen with one boat were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing practices at Palk Strait. The arrest was made by a Fast Attack Craft (FAC) belonging to the Northern Naval Command. The FAC attached to the Northern Naval Command was on a routine patrol when they arrested the Indian fishing poachers while they were practicing bottom trawling in Sri Lankan territorial waters. The fishing trawler was brought to SLNS Elara in Kareinagar and the fishermen to SLNS Uththara in Kankesanthurei. They were later due to be handed over to the Jaffna Assistant Director of Fisheries for further legal action.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Ken-Betwa link: Panel flags large-scale impact on forest and wildlife

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the environment ministry, in a meeting last week flagged several issues pertaining to the Ken-Betwa river. They discussed the impact on the large-scale submergence of forests and wildlife habitats inside Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) because of the Ken-Betwa river linking project, highly placed sources told DNA.The project was subjected to scrutiny on the basis of a site inspection report of its sub-committee. The FAC, among other things, has sought to examine if the height of the project dam can be reduced by at least 10 metres. They also proposed a realignment of the project canal to reduce diversion of forest land.The river linking project has already received wildlife clearance from National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), and the expert advisory committee of the environment ministry has recommended that it be given clearance too. Pegged at more than Rs 10,000 crore, the project involves construction of a 77 metre tall and 2,031 metre wide dam at Daudhan. A 221-km long canal will also be built to transfer the water from Ken river basin to Betwa river basin for irrigating an estimated 6.35 lakh hectares of land in parched Bundelkhand. A total of 6017 hectares of forest will be diverted for the project, but 5454 hectares of pristine forest in Panna will be submerged under water.Sources say the FAC members believe that reducing the dam height is the only way to save the unique ecosystems in caves, gorges and rock crevices in PTR along both banks of the Ken river and reduce its fragmentation. The long-billed vultures use the rock crevices as nesting sites while the caves are inhabited by sloth bears, tigers and leopards.This is not the first time that reduction of the height of the dam has been discussed. Last year, an expert body constituted by the NBWL, had recommended reduction in height of the Daudhan dam. The Water Resources Ministry had argued that reducing the dam height will substantially reduce the irrigation command area. Eventually, the recommendation was dropped. During the meeting, the committee also noted that the cost-benefit analysis of the project submitted by National Water Development Agency, has not considered the ecosystem services lost due to loss of pristine forests and unique riverine ecosystem. It has thus sought a detailed study on ecosystem services and goods, through a reputed institution.Reportedly, the committee has also discussed the issue of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

MoEF panel defers clearance of DRDO test site in Andhra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The forest advisory committee (FAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has deferred recommending clearance for Defence Research Development Organisation’s (DRDO) proposed test facility on the coast in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh. The proposed testing facility requires diversion of 155 hectares of forest land from the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary, a notified protected area that is home to endangered and vulnerable wildlife species like Fishing Cat and Smooth Indian Otter. The proposed facility is also adjacent to a beach that is a nesting site of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, a species protected under Schedule-I of theWildlife Protection Act, 1972. However, the National Board for Wildlife granted it wildlife clearance.DRDO has proposed to set up a testing facility, an approach road connecting the test site and technical facility. The eco-system is primarily an estuarine area with mangroves, rivulets that are distinct to the Krishna Delta Complex.During the meeting, FAC observed that settlement procedures of forest rights of locals communities are pending. Detailed records of consultations and meetings of the Forest Rights committees and Gram Sabhas have not been furnished, it noted.The FAC has asked authorities to look into the matter. “We recommend the proposal be put up to competent authority on provision of details with regard to Forest Rights Act, that calls for meetings of Forest Rights Committee, Gram Sabha and Gram Sabha resolutions,”the committee said.As the project is located near the mangrove and estuarine habitats, the livelihood of locals would be affected; officials of the forest department had informed the ministry. “The livelihood of fishermen who are dependent on fishing in the creeks would be badly affected due to closure of creeks and nullas by formation of an approach road,” the divisional forest officer (DFO) had said in his report.

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