Chhattisgarh issues show-cause notice to NMDC over Bailadila iron ore project
The Chhattisgarh government has issued a show-cause notice to NMDC Ltd asking why the second stage clearance for forest land allotted for an iron ore project in Dantewada’s Bailadila Hill, considered by local tribes to be sacred, should not be cancelled.
The forest department also asked NMDC to file its reply within seven days in the notice issued on Friday.
The notice came after a probe report submitted by collector Dantewada Topeshwar Verma on March 4 showed that the consent of gram sabha at Hiroli in Dantewada was not taken before the approval of the mining at deposit number 13 of Bailadila.
Consent of the gram sabha, a representative body of all villagers, was key to approval of mining of the Bailadila iron deposit with an estimated annual capacity of 10 million tonnes.
The five-point notice of the forest department says that the diversion of 315.813 hectares of forest land for Bailadila Deposit 13 project permission or final approval was granted by the Union ministry of forest and environment and on January 9, 2017.
“When the incumbent collector’s investigation has found the gram sabha to be void… Hence no option is left except to nullify the entire process,” the notice said.
The notice asked why should not the Chhattisgarh government cancel second stage clearance.
The mine would be operated by Adani Enterprises Limited under the central government’s mine developer and operator (MDO) scheme was given to NCL, a joint venture of NMDC and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC), in 2014.
Pankaj Sharma, chief executive officer of NCL, said he had not received the notice till Saturday and will respond after reading it.
Under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, forest land cannot be used as non-forest land for any project until the process of diversion of forest land as per the procedure mentioned in this law is completed.
The approval for the diversion is given in two stages, first and last.
Aloke Shukla of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, an activist group tracking environment regulations for the past 15 years, said the gram sabha’s consent had been taken through fraudulent means in several mining projects.
“After the recognition of forest rights act came into existence, Section 4 sub-section 5 of the law and the order of July 30, 2009, of the Union ministry adds another process to diversion,” Shukla, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan’s president, said.
“In the case of deposit number 13, no consent of the gram sabha was taken as per the probe of the collector and hence the state government under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, can cancel the second and final stage of forest clearance,” he pointed out.