Odisha seeks five months’ time for forest clearance for mines

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Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has sought five months’ time from the Centre for obtaining forest clearance for five mines of the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), a state government PSU.

While one mine has already shut down, four mines operated by OMC face closure if they does not obtain clearance for the entire forest land within the lease area by Jan 31.

“We have requested the union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) to extend the deadline to June 30 to obtain clearance for the entire forest land within the lease area for five mines of OMC, said state Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallik on Saturday.

He said gram sabhas have been conducted in 19 places, out of 20 places, for conversion of forest land in the areas. The mines include two main chromite leases- South Kaliapani, Sukurangi – and two key iron ore mines, Daitari and Gandhamardhan (B).

Kurmitar iron ore mine of OMC has already been shut down in the absence of forest clearance.

“If the mines are closed, several industries would face raw material shortage and the labour force would also be affected,” said the minister.

In Feb 2013, the MoEF had issued a guideline directing all mine leaseholders to obtain clearance for the entire forest land in the mine lease area before Jan 31, 2015.

The mining PSU currently holds leases for 11 iron ore mines, with production potential assessed at 30 million tonne per annum.

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