Days after the Supreme Court temporarily banned mining in Bellary, the suspended miners want the state’s forest department to share responsibility for the environmental degradation.
The miners, including one of the largest – Sandur Manganese Iron Ore, have said that if the rationale for last week’s Supreme Court decision to suspend mining in the district was large scale degradation of forests, then the state forest department must also be answerable.
“What has happened to Rs 738 crore, that miners contributed over the years under compensatory afforestation, and the net present value charges,” said SY Ghorpade, chairman of Sandur Manganese Iron Ore, one of the few mines to have maintained a clean record.
Permission to use forest land for non-forest use and its consequent environmental damage and forest losses are minimised by collecting funds for plantation work. The state is supposed to carry out plantation work on revenue land identified and paid for by companies.
“We have voluntarily planted 28 lakh trees against the required 1.14 lakh tress. Even if you take a 60% survival ratio, that’s still more than 15 lakh trees. We have been protecting and not damaging our area, and we should not have to suffer for the deeds of others,” said Ghorpade.
“It’s a fair question,” said Rahul Baldota of MSPL, another company with interests in steelmaking. “How does one mine without removing trees, within the lease area?” Compensatory afforestation charges are about Rs 50 crore a hectare and that of net present value (NPV) is Rs 4-7 lakh for a hectare, depending on the density of the forest. “The state compensatory afforestation is just a one-year-old. The real results of the projects undertaken with these funds, is not yet visible,” said state’s chief forest conservator, H Prakash.
The state has received 10% or Rs 58 crore from the central ad hoc compensatory afforestation kitty for 2009-10, and another Rs 61 crores for 2010-2011. It is expecting almost Rs 53 crore for the current year. Economic Times