The public hearing was called by the district administration to seek environment clearance (EC) for cluster of four mines coming up in survey number 82 in Zendepar.
However, the Iron Ore Project Action Committee, Korchi, alleged the administration with several manipulations. “Though hearing was for only one mine, the idea was to clear all four mines coming up in 45 hectares,” alleged Nandkishore Vairagade, vice-president of the committee.
Vairagade said the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district administration deliberately kept the hearing at Gadchiroli, which is 130 away from the mining areas. On the contrary, Korchi is just 7km away from Zendepar mining area.
“Though this was done apparently to keep mining opponents at bay, over 600 villagers turned up at the hearing, shocking the officials. There were no chairs to sit and people were forced to sit on the ground,” charged Anil Kerami, chief of the committee.
He added that intimation was issued for proposal of only Anuj Mines & Chemicals Private Limited coming up in 12 hectares. However, plan was to clear all four mines.
“Many gram sabhas did not receive any intimation about the hearing. Due to mismanagement, many villagers were unable to know what was going on in the hearing,” said secretary of the committee Kachribai Kotange.
OF Bhaund, Gadchiroli district mining officer (DMO), admitted that four iron ore mines by different proponents are coming up in the same area in 45 hectares but Thursday’s hearing was for only one mine. Though the mines are proposed on revenue land, good forest and tree cover has come up in the area.
Bhaund admitted there was slight mismanagement as more people turned up for the hearing than anticipated.
However, Vairagade says it not the question of mines coming on revenue land. Communities are dependent on rich biodiversity and forest produce near the mining areas. Mining activity will not only degrade the environment but will permanently destroy livelihood of the locals.
Debi Goenka, executive trustee of environment protection NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT), too, has sought details about these mining proposals.