Forest clearance for SAIL Chiria iron mines in Jharkhand

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NEW DELHI - The environment ministry Wednesday permitted the diversion of forest land for the Steel Authority of India’s Chiria iron ore mines in Jharkhand after imposing 13 conditions.

The ministry gave forest clearance for diverting 595 hectares of land in the Saranda forest of Singhbhum district after imposing 13 conditions relating to compensatory afforestation and maintenance of biodiversity.

Forest clearances had been given to SAIL earlier in 1998 and Oct 1998 for two leases in Chiria itself.

The Chiria mine complex covers 2,376 hectares - which is about three percent of the entire Saranda forest area. The project had been accorded environmental clearances earlier.

“As per the conditions, only mining and primary and secondary crushing is allowed in the forest area. Processing, beneficiation, blending, stockpiling, railway sidings, infrastructure and all township facilities will be 15 km away in non-forest land,” the ministry said.

The entire mine lease covering 2,376 hectares will remain with SAIL as at present.

Given the ecological sensitivity of the Saranda forest area, the ministry said it will assume direct responsibility and set up a multi-disciplinary expert group comprising ecologists and anthropologists to be responsible for this monitoring.

“The monitoring, evaluation and compliance reports will be made available in the public domain once a quarter. This committee will pay special attention to the concerns relating to the impact of mining on elephant habitats and migratory routes,” it said.

The proposal was, however, rejected by the ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee.

Giving a clarification on this, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said: “The FAC is a statutory body and I have made no effort whatsoever to interfere in its functioning.”

Ramesh said Chria is essential for the future of SAIL.

“Over the next 50 years, around 40 percent of the iron ore requirement of SAIL will be met from the Chiria mines. SAIL is a Maharatna public sector company with a good track record and as such deserve a special treatment.”

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