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Orissa diverts 12,000 ha forest land for mining industries

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Close to 12000 hectares of have been diverted in the state in the past 10 years for mining activities and also to make way for industries in sectors like , , and petroleum refining.

While mining activities have taken the lion's share of the forest land (10,182 hectares), 1749.02 hectares have been diverted for industrial projects.

Forest land in the state has been diverted for as many as 90 miners during 2001-11, including Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (), National Aluminium Company Ltd (), Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), Ferro Alloys Corporation (Facor), , Ltd, Essel Mining & Industries Ltd KJS Ahluwalia and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) to name a few.

The industries for whom forest land has been diverted are JSPL (168.32 hectares) for its integrated steel & power complex at Angul, Posco India (1252.22 hectares) for its 12 million tonne per annum steel mill in Jagatsinghpur district, Aditya Aluminium Ltd (119.26 hectares) for its aluminium smelter and captive power plant at Sambalpur and Bhusan Steel & Power Ltd (61.48 hectares) for its integrated steel plant in Angul district to name a few.

Of the 11082.3 hectares of area to be taken up for compensatory afforestation, 7727.63 hectares have already been covered.

However, the pace of compensatory afforestation taken up by industrial players has been comparatively slower.

Only 157.89 hectares have been taken up for compensatory afforestation so far out of 1806.78 hectares mandated for these industrial projects in lieu of forest land diverted.

It may be noted that the Orissa government had presented a Rs 325 crore, five-year Action Plan to the Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

The additional Action Plan aims at enhancing forest protection on the joint forest management mode. The joint forest management mode envisages active involvement and participation of people for protection and enrichment of forest through Vana Sanrakshyana Samities (VSS).

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