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Central Committee imposes penalties on nmdc for mining in reserved forest

The central committee has highlighted the absence of information from the state government regarding actions taken against officials responsible for the violation in the case of NMDC Limited’s mining operations in Sandur, Ballari district. The committee has approved the state government’s recommendation to penalize NMDC Limited for violations spanning 44 years in 239 acres of reserved forest land.

NMDC Limited initiated operations in 1977 with a mining lease of 1,502 acres predating the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. However, the company neglected to obtain forest clearance for 249.37 acres during the lease renewal in 1997, with the violated area scattered across the 582.27-acre forest land parcel.

Last year, during the regularization application, officials from the Environment, Forest, and Climate Change department observed diverse wildlife in the forest, including leopards, sloth bears, jackals, antelopes, porcupines, monitor lizards, pangolins, and various bird species.

The Forest Advisory Committee reviewed the matter, and NMDC authorities acknowledged the ongoing violation. To compensate for the damage, NMDC proposed conservation efforts in 95 acres near the Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary, with the remaining compensatory afforestation funds allocated for afforestation in 488 acres.

While the state forest department suggested considering the entire 582.27-acre parcel for diversion due to the violation’s scattered nature, the central committee limited the diversion to 249.37 acres. They directed the state officials to collaborate with NMDC to create a forest management plan for the remaining 342.92 acres.

Granting in-principle approval for the proposal, the central committee emphasized that the state government must formulate an integrated wildlife management plan for the diverted forest area and implement it at NMDC’s expense. Notably, the committee expressed concern over the lack of information from the state government regarding actions taken against officials responsible for the violation.

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