Coal ministry asks Odisha to opt for quicker impact study for mining project | Latest News India

BHUBANESWAR: The Union coal ministry has requested Odisha authorities to get the state’s forest officers to look into the impact of coal mining in Angul district on the motion of elephants relatively than contain the Forest Research Institute as proposed by the state authorities.

In an April 20 letter to Odisha chief secretary Suresh Mohapatra, the coal ministry’s further secretary M Nagaraju mentioned the Odisha authorities plan to have interaction the Dehradun-headquartered Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education for wildlife administration and mitigation plans due to the mine’s proximity to an elephant reserve and an elephant hall will take appreciable time.

“…it would impact granting environmental and forest clearances to coal mines. This may adversely affect the coal production from the coal blocks in Talcher coalfields and other coalfields in Odisha. I shall be grateful if you kindly look into the matter and direct the forest department officers to furnish their comments to the ministry of environment, forests and climate change at the earliest instead of engaging ICFRE for any forestry research,” Nagaraju, who’s the designated authority within the coal ministry for public sale of coal mines, wrote in his letter.

The letter was despatched in context of the Naini opencast coal mine in Chhendipada tehsil of Angul district of Odisha that’s scheduled for mining by the state-owned agency, Singareni Collieries Company Limited of Telangana, after grant of all clearances from the union atmosphere ministry. HT has reviewed the letter.

The Naina opencast coal mines, unfold over an space of 912.799 hectares, was allotted to Singareni Collieries Company Limited and is essential for its 2×600 megawatt thermal energy plant in Pegadapalli below Mancherial district of Telangana. As it’s the solely coal producing company in southern India, SCCL has to provide coal to the ability corporations in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

While the Naini coal block, with an estimated coal reserves of 340 million tonnes of excessive grade coal, will likely be greater than sufficient to meet the wants of the PSU, wildlife consultants are involved about its probably impact on rising human-elephant battle within the Angul-Dhenkanal industrial belt.

In the final 8 years, 184 elephants have died in human-elephant battle within the area, about 30% of the entire elephant deaths in Odisha.

“The Angul-Dhenkanal region is not just among the most polluted in Odisha due to large number of coal mines and power plants, but it is the most critical place when it comes to human-elephant conflict. A few decades ago, Angul-Dhenkanal region was known to be haven for the elephants as a large part of the area was forested allowing them to travel long distances. But with diversion of forest lands due to coal mining and industrial activity, elephant corridors have been broken, triggering huge human-elephant conflict. Coal mining in the region will mean the end of the elephants,” mentioned wildlife activist Dr Biswajit Mohanty.

The coal block allotted to the central PSU in August 2015 acquired its environmental clearance in October 2021 and stage-I forest clearance in July 2021. Of the 912.799 hectare proposed mining space, 783.275 is forest space of which 643.095 hectare is a reserve forest. Once the project will get its last forest clearance, not less than 1.06 lakh sal, acacia, neem, mahul, bahada, bheru, sunari, teak, sirisa, gohira and ghurudu timber in Chhendipada reserve forest can have to be felled for the project.

While activists and evnironmentalists are alarmed over the chopping of big variety of timber for the coal project, officers within the state widllife division in addition to the regional office of ministry of atmosphere and forests over final 2 years had proposed extra research on wildlife administration plans contemplating its proximity of the project to the Mahanadi Elephant Reserve (50 km away) and Kahneijena-Anatapur elephant hall (29 km away).

The boundary of the project is roughly 30 km from the boundary of Satkosia Tiger reserve whereas the proposed Similipal-Satkosia tiger Corridor is about 8 km on the north aspect of the proposed project.

Following a report by the regional officer of the atmosphere ministry that steered detailed mitigation plan to keep away from man-animal battle and offering secure passage to elephants, the Forest Advisory Committee – it can grant the ultimate forest clearance – sought feedback of Odisha chief wildlife warden for an in depth wildlife administration plan as the realm witnessed exploratory motion of elephants.

Officials mentioned the state authorities was planning to ask the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education for an in depth study when the coal ministry steered that its forest official ship their feedback to the atmosphere ministry as an alternative of participating ICFRE which might be time consuming.

Nagaraju’s letter mentioned an extended study might adversely have an effect on the coal manufacturing from the coal blocks in Talcher coalfields and different coalfields in Odisha. “Coal mining plays an important role in the growth of the industrial sector in Odisha and India. As Odisha accounts for India’s 24% of coal reserves, it is crucial component of the state’s economy,” he mentioned.

Odisha’s chief wildlife warden Shashi Paul mentioned as an alternative of going for a longer-duration study to verify the impact of coal mining on the motion of elephants, the state has determined to have interaction Bombay Natural History Society for the identical. “We already have some data from out own resources which we will pass on to BNHS so that the study report can come in next 6 months,” mentioned Paul.

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