Environment fund to be utilized through SEMT

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has decided to bring the environment management fund collected from all minor mineral and sairat sources under the State Environment Management Trust (SEMT) for utilization as per its mandate.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high level meeting presided over by Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi at the State Secretariat here today.

It was decided that 5% of the royalty on minor minerals and all sairat sources would be collected as per provisions in Odisha Minor Mineral Concession (OMMC) Rules. This fund would come to SEMT constituted under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary, Finance.

The Chief Secretary advised the Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) Rajiv Kumar to put the system of issuing ‘consent to operate’ the quarries online. The Board was also advised to keep the offline mode open for those who find it it convenient.

Kumar said the authority to issue the consent for operation would be delegated to regional offices of the Board so as to make the system easier and quicker.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, principal secretary, Forest and Environment, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said the SMET constituted in the year 2006 is presently working for environmental protection and development in the state. Five percent of the royalty collected as per the OMMC rules would add to its existing fund sources.

“The funds would be utilized for environmental conservation, restoration and regeneration activities like plantation both in rural and urban areas, renovation of water bodies, creation of eco-parks, plantation of the bald hills etc,” Mohapatra added.