More than 104 sq. kms of mining lease area comprising of Bauxite, Limestone, Iron and Manganese, Copper and minor minerals considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF in one of its meetings in June 2012. 59 projects were placed before the committee, many of them remained merely proposals i.e. neither transformed into a TOR or recommendation for Environmental Clearance, thanks to lack of details and information submitted by the proponent, prepared by the consultant. It is not a small area for which 15 similar proposals to mine river bed over an aggregate area of 928 hectare were tabled and prepared by a SINGLE consultant. In Uttarakhand SEIAA is still not constituted otherwise this would have gone unnoticed and this raises question over quality of assessments that may emerge given such proposals are cleared without doing due diligence. The forest outgo is likely to be (if the forest clearance comes through) 31 sq. kms., (almost 30% of the total area proposed for lease but this may vary and only corresponds to listed proposals in a meeting) interesting is the fact that minerals have become so important that forests have become secondary, around 5 such proposals have their mining lease area entirely in forest area (around 5.18 sq. kms) and another set of five projects having more than 40 to 75% of the mining lease area as forest area. Majority of them are from Orissa and Jharkhand, it is no doubt that with every such consideration of mining proposals cumulative decrease in large area of forests is inevitable as these two have always co-existed alongwith tribals.
The number of Human Rights violation and attacks on human rights defenders has been increasing in the recent past, the recent being a gun shot on Ramesh Agarwal, who survived with a severe injury to his leg. Mining is becoming prime over other resources, in the state of Rajasthan, water is required to be sourced from nearby villages through tankers for a limestone mine. Bhaitarni River has become a major source of water for mining and industrial purposes in Jharkhand, Orissa. Only these many projects require 58 million litres water per day? One of the projects is entirely over agricultural and grazing land for a limestone mine in Damoh, Madhya Pradesh. In Keonjhar it is observed that the water has high iron content, the recommendation is to source potable water for all villages in 5 km distance of mine lease where no municipal supply is available ╴ this issue may get lost in the confusion ‘whom to provide water’.
Justice for Ramesh may throw open the truth behind such acts. In this maze of vast, rapid and unmindful resource allocation for mining, the written decisions may not reflect transition to ground and several human rights defenders need a strong protection and fast action against the initiators.
EAC Meeting April 2013 (MoEF) Summary of Mining Proposals in Descending order of lease area
|State/District/Minerals||No. of Proposals||Lease Area^ (HA)|
^ including all area (public, private, forests)
^^ excluding 55 proposals for Environment Clearance from Government of Punjab for River bed Mining across the state. Total proposals to be considered is 106 in 3 days
Out of 11 proposals for Environmental Clearance (excluding 55 proposals from Punjab) 7 proposals are reconsideration cases.