Skip to main content

Environment Ministry softens stand

Projects falling within wildlife zones back in the reckoning

Several project proposals which were taken off the list for forest clearance as they fell within wildlife zones or were awaiting comprehensive assessment will be considered afresh by the Forest Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests in January.
The proposals include exploration for coal in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, in zones that were earlier identified by the ministry as being part of a wildlife corridor. There is also a proposal to permit iron ore excavation in Saranda, Jharkhand, where permission for mining was blocked after the area had been identified as an elephant reserve.
Yet another proposal is for the 700 MW Tato-II Hydroelectric Project on the Siyom in Arunachal Pradesh without a cumulative assessment study the ministry earlier mandated for the river basin.
The Forest Advisory Committee is the statutory authority under the Forest Conservation Act. It is headed by the seniormost forest officer, Director-General of Forests, and comprises several senior forest officials and some non-official experts. All proposals for forest clearance are assessed by this committee, and the Environment Minister takes the final call on the projects based on its reviews. Rarely does the Minister go against the committee’s views and the listing of projects on the agenda for the panel is done with the Minister’s knowledge.

The proposals in Singrauli include exploration for coal in the Dongri Taal, Patpahariya, Marki-Barka East and Marki-Barka West blocks. They are in close proximity to the Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve. The blocks were earlier earmarked by the Ministry as falling within areas with tigers. Even a ‘refined’ study by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) concluded that two of these were important for tiger conservation. The NTCA noted that they fell within the zone that should be declared an ecologically sensitive area.
Iron mining in the Saranda forests is proposed in what was notified as the Singhbhum elephant reserve. In 2010, while permitting some public sector undertakings to mine at one end of the reserve, the Ministry ruled that no other mining leases be permitted in the Saranda forests, but has gone back on its decision.
At the same time, the Centre has dithered for several years on greater protection to elephant reserves and on establishing a conservation authority, which was recommended by a committee on the lines of the NTCA. Empowering the authority with legal mandate would make it difficult for projects to be sanctioned in elephant reserves.
Tato-II project appraisal was earlier put on the back burner after the committee sought a cumulative assessment of all projects planned in the river basin. But after hectic discussions between the Environment and Power Ministries and after the Cabinet Committee on Investments considered the issue, the FAC is set to discuss the plan again without the assessment.
It claims that this is the first project in the river basin that has come up for forest clearance and so it can be taken up for approval without cumulative assessment. But the Ministry gave environment clearance in 2005 for another project on the same river basin downstream.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

The Chipko movement as it stands today

The idea behind the Chipko movement originated in early 1970s from Mandal, a village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Forty-three years later, Down To Earth travelled to Chamoli and Tehri Garhwal and spoke to the participants of this movement about its relevance today