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18,077 ha forest land diverted in Odisha for mining

Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Angul and Koraput see maximum diversion

BS Reporter  |  Bhubaneswar 

As many as 18077.329 hectares (ha) of forest land have been diverted for mining activities in the state till June 2013.

“About 52040.805 ha of different types of forest land are leased out in the mining areas. On approval of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, about 18077.329 hectares of forest land are diverted in accordance with the Forest Conservation Act, 1980,” state Forest and Environment Minister, Bijayshree Routray said in a written reply to the state assembly.

Maximum forest land were diverted in the mining rich Keonjhar district (7980.74 ha). It is followed by Sundergarh (4714.514 ha), Angul (1734.784 ha), Koraput (1032 ha) etc.

The state government has collected Rs 3,074.74 crore from the mine owners towards net present value of the trees (NPV) and other deposits for diversion of forest land.

Similarly, for non-forestry purposes, about 41862.032 ha of forest land are diverted till June 2013. Such diversions are highest in Sundergarh district (5468.46 ha) followed by Angul (3908.685 ha), Bolangir (3765.685 ha), Jajpur (3208 ha) among others.

While the National Forest Policy (1988) states that the forest cover should be 33.33 percent, this cover in Odisha, according to an assessment of Forest Survey of India in 2011, is 31.41 per cent of the total geographical area, said the minister responding to another question.

The forest cover in the state, according to the survey, is 48903 square kilometres.

The forest land diversion for mining is significant for the state as it is one of the largest mineral bearing states in the country with 16.92 per cent of the total reserves of the country. The mineral reserve of the state in respect of chromite, nickel ore, graphite, bauxite, iron ore, manganese and coal is about 97.37 per cent, 95.10 per cent , 76.67 per cent, 49.74 per cent, 33.91 per cent, 28.56 per cent and 27.59 per cent respectively of the total deposits in the country.

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First Published: Wed, December 11 2013. 20:24 IST