The Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) has sought lease wise details of the net present value (NPV) realised from the miners for diversion of forest land in Odisha.
The ministry has also sought the current status of grant of approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of such forest land for which NPV has been realised.
Besides, the MoEF has sought from the state government, a copy of the scheme, for utilisation of NPV of forest land realised. The MoEF letter is set to embarrass the state government since it is yet to collect NPV arrears from mine lessees that have mounted to Rs 813.46 crore. Recently, the state forest department had threatened to scrap forest clearance of lessees if they fail to deposit the dues within a month.
“In respect of cases where the defaulting lessees are continuing working in the mine, the lessee may be directed to deposit the balance of NPV within a period of 30 days failing which Government may be moved for withdrawal of the forest clearance granted to the lessee in respect of working mines. It is essential to take vigorous and proactive steps for realisation of the unpaid amount of NPV along with interest,” R K Sharma, principal secretary, forest & environment (Odisha) had written to principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF).
The NPV is the amount the user agencies need to deposit for diversion of forest land. It includes the cost of the land along with tangible and intangible benefits of the forest area and is charged at Rs 5.8 lakh to Rs 9.2 lakh per hectare depending on the type and density of the diverted forest land.
In the list of defaulters are top miners like Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). Two state government controlled firms — Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha Ltd (Idcol) are also saddled with NPV dues.
SAIL has not paid the NPV for forest land coming within its Harmath iron and manganese mines under Keonjhar division. The Keonjhar divisional forest officer had raised a demand of Rs 76.79 crore on the company. The biggest defaulter is state run miner OMC that needs to pay off NPV dues for its 11 mines with deposits of iron ore, manganese, chromite and china clay. OMC’s NPV dues have mounted to Rs 301.95 crore. User agencies are required to pay NPV for diversion of forest land as per the Supreme Court (SC) order in 2010.
The SC appointed central empowered cum coordination committee (CEC) had recommended that 50 per cent of the NPV collected from mining lease holders is to be utilised for inclusive growth and development of villages, gram panchayats and peripheral areas affected by mining activities.