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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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