Forests with rich bio-diversity, good hydrological potential and livelihood support for locals should be declared inviolate (free) from mining, an environment ministry committee has told the government.
The committee headed by environment secretary Tishyarakshit Chatterjee was constituted by a Group of Ministers after it scrapped the go-no-go policy for coal mining in dense forests saying the ministry should come out with norms for mining in “pristine” forest areas.
The committee, in its final report, which has been submitted to the Planning Commission, has recommended eight parameters to evaluate forests before allowing mining.
If the forest is ranked high on five of the eight parameters, the ministry has said, mining should not be allowed, meaning “no-mining zones” will increase as compared to the earlier go-no-go policy.
Aimed at protecting rich biodiversity and wildlife areas, the committee has also given a formula for indexing of wildlife, which will be done for the first time. The formula will help evaluate wildlife importance of each forest area. The formula has been devised by Indian Council for Forest and Research and India and Forest Research Institute of India.
Departing from the earlier go-no-go policy, the ministry wants the government to frame broad guidelines for mining in forest areas based on the committee’s recommendations.
“No-mining zone or inviolate area would be much more that the erstwhile no-go policy as per the recommendations,” a government official said.