Vijay Pinjarkar, Times News Network, July 14 2017
The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the ministry of environment, climate change and forest (MoEFCC) has put on hold forest clearance to limestone mining project falling between Tadoba-Andhari (Chandrapur district, Maharashtra) and Kawal (Telangana) Tiger Reserves.
The FAC, in its meeting on June 15, had considered forest diversion of 293.12 hectares, of which 273.88 hectares is in reserve forest and 19.24 hectares is in protected forest for limestone mining, at Shedwai in Jeevati taluka in Chandrapur.
It now appears that the FAC has not stopped the proposal on the basis of ecological and tiger importance but because the Maharashtra government had reported that the matter related to validity of letter of intent (LoI) is sub judice.
In such cases, the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, guidelines clearly say that “governments are advised not to consider or process cases, which are pending in various courts or sub judice to avoid all sorts of administrative and legal complications”.
Against this backdrop, the FAC has recommended that no permission be granted to the project under Section 2 of FCA 1980 till the final order of the Nagpur high court.
Environment and wildlife protection NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT) had opposed the project stating the proposed limestone mine is located at the inter-state boundary of Maharashtra and Telangana. Kawal reserve is 20km away from the mine lease area.
Strangely, in the document uploaded on the FAC website, APCCF (Central, Nagpur) Kanwarjit Singh, in the site visit report on January 30, 2017 has stated the area is not important from the wildlife view point and no PAs or tiger corridor is located in the region.
“This is completely baseless. There is enough evidence available which state that tigers and other mammals use this corridor. Also,, on one hand the government is promoting plantations to increase green cover and on the other it is destroying vast forests which can never be created again,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, CAT.
As observed from the Google earth imagery on February 27, 2017, there are no anthropogenic activities in the proposed mine area. The limestone mining project will cause loss of native species, forest areas, wildlife corridors, and habitat fragmentation. Besides, the continuous vehicular movements, machinery, drilling, quarrying will cause rise in air, water, noise, and soil pollution.