CEPT suggests special area authority for Joda-Barbil in Orissa

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Mumbai/ Ahmedabad : Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University has an answer to the mining woes of the Joda-Barbil area situated near the Orissa-Jharkhand border.

Having prepared a regional environmental management plan (REMP) for Joda-Barbil area, CEPT has recommended the formation of a 15 member special area authority to manage the bio-diversity and mining activities of the region.

In August, the CEPT University will be submitting the REMP on the area that contributes around nine per cent to Orissa’s mining revenues.

“We have recommended the creation of a special area authority whose decision-making will be localised and it would be headed by a core team of specialists. This will ensure that the decision-making process is localised and that there can be single-window clearances for the area and the committee will also regulate the illegal mining activities in the region,” said Saswat Bandyopadhyay, head of the Department in the Department of Environmental Planning, Faculty of Planning and Public Policy and project coordinator from CEPT.

Orissa’s rich mineral reserves constitute 28 per cent of India’s total deposits and the state has more than 35 percent of the country’s iron ore reserves with 5231 million tonnes of iron ore.

The REMP report is an outcome of a consortium between CEPT, Environment Management Centre (EMC), Pune and S S Environics India Pvt Ltd in October 2009 given by Orissa State pollution control board (OSPCB).

Annually 1.56 million tonnes of iron ore is exported from Joda Barbil through the ports of Haldia and Paradip to different states and even countries like China and Korea.

“There is a lot of infrastructure stress on the region because of its huge iron ore reserves. We want to primarily set up a control mechanisms as the region has a lot of illegal mining activity, set up a coordination committee dedicated to the region to govern and implement the plan. There has to be a planned CSR fund to be earmarked for local economic development and rehabilitation packages for the people in the region by the mining companies. Also there is a bio-diversity corridor in the region so the mining areas have to be controlled in such a way that the ecological balance of the region remains unspoiled,” Bandopadhyay added.

CEPT has also done the social indexing for the area which has a population of 2,12000 out of which the tribal population is about 50 to 60 percent of the total population.

Some of the salient points of the report include proposals to balance out the pollution and socio-economic development of the region along with capacity building.

The study also proposes a biodiversity corridor which will have areas earmarked for elephant corridors so that their natural habitat is kept intact and the building of an alternate road from Joda to Palasponga area will be created.

With more than 100 companies including major players like Orissa Minerals development company (OMDC), TISCO, TATA ferro alloys, RMD Bolani, Essel- Aditya Birla Group and RUNGTA that carry on mining activities in 113 mines in the area, the region is also infamous for its ‘mineral mafia’ who indulge in illegal extraction of iron from Keonjhar, Kasia, Barpada and Lasarda mining area.

(Business Standard)

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