Many representations received for bauxite mining project in Orissa: Ramesh

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New Delhi, Nov 27 (ANI): Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, has said that he has received a large number of representations with regard to a bauxite mining project by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC).

Ramesh said the projects are now being examined by his Ministry for approval or rejection, and therefore, there was no ambiguity.

"I have been receiving a large number of representations in regard to the project for bauxite mining by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) through Vedanta, a private mining company in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa. The total amount of forestland proposed to be diverted is 660.749 of which around 353.14 ha is in the Niyamgiri reserved forest. Concerns have also been raised on the impact that this project will, interalia, have on livelihoods of tribal communities," said Jairam Ramesh.

The project application was received in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE and F) on February 26, 2005. The MoE and F gave 'in-principle' approval for this project on December 11,2008 under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. This 'in-principle' approval is to be converted to a final approval after the fulfillment of stipulations contained in the 'in-principle' approval.

As the representations started coming in, the MoE and F had on August 6, asked the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhubaneshwar to investigate the complaints that the project activities have started even without the final approval of the Central Government in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The site was inspected and the site inspection report was submitted on August 16,2009.

The site inspection report found that construction activity had begun in the non-forest revenue land, which is a violation of the guidelines issued by the MoE and F.

On August 3, 2009, the MoE and F had issued a binding guideline to all State Governments that application for diversion under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would be considered only after all due processes contained in the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 have been fully and satisfactorily completed.

A letter was subsequently issued by the MoE and F to the Orissa Government on November 3, 2009 directing the State to comply with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 and provide evidence for the compliance before the Centre could examine conversion of the 'in-principle' approval to final approval. (ANI)

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