Skip to main content

Mining in India has mostly taken place in common grazing land: Study cites environment ministry data

Counterview Desk
A recent study, “Midcourse Manoeuvres: Community strategies and remedies for natural resource conflicts in India”, says that a sectoral and regional distribution of environment clearances for projects granted environmental clearance up to October 2017 indicates that states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have “a large number of environment clearances for industrial projects”.
Analyzing 4,553 projects, listed on the environment ministry’s website as of October 2017, as they appeared in January 2018, the study analyses four sectors, mining, thermal power, river valley projects, and infrastructure and CRZ.
Authors Kanchi Kohli, Meenakshi Kapoor, Manju Menon and Vidya Viswanathan of the CPR-Namati Environmental Justice Program, New Delhi, however, regret, the only environmental clearance letters could be used for analysis because the ministry “maintains a record only of the number of approvals and not the land area approved.” 

Excerpts from the study:

The data analysed is for an 11-year period for the years 2005-16. It was in 2004 when several new sectors such as building and construction projects were brought under the purview of the EIA notification. With increased urbanisation, these sectors have had a significant bearing on land use change. According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the real estate sector has been on a “roller coaster ride” since 2005 and is growing at the rate of 20% per annum.
From 2005-16, more than 3,12,524 ha of land was diverted for 116 river valley projects (total river valley projects approved during this period). Out of this, 51,130 ha was forest land. The state wise distribution of the land use change due to river valley projects is presented below. Manipur and Andhra Pradesh stand out because of Tipaimukh (31,950 ha) and Polavaram (46,060 ha) multipurpose dams.
The same data can be also be analysed to understand the year-wise land use change for both forest and non- forest land from 2005-16 for 116 (out of 163) river valley projects approved during that period. The maximum non-forest land was diverted between 2005 and 2006, amounting to a total of 2,04,315 ha. When it comes to forestland, the big peak is in 2008 because of the approval for the Tipaimukh multipurpose project (26,237 ha).

Mining (coal and non-coal mining)

From 2005-16, 7,31,787 ha of land was diverted for 1,881 mining projects. The total mining projects approved during this period were 2,523. Out of this 1,77,206 ha was forestland. Other lands include agricultural and grazing lands. States such as Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Rajasthan are where the largest amount of land use change has taken place due to mining. In Rajasthan (4%) and Gujarat (2%) very little forest area has been approved towards land use change. 
This is because the approval letters indicate that most of the lands taken up for mining are common grazing lands. In Uttarakhand, 82% of the mining is in forest land. However, this is mostly riverbed sand and boulder mining, which has to go through the approval process due to change in regulations in 2015.
The maximum land was approved towards mining in the years 2007-09. In contrast, there has been a slowdown in approvals since 2011 with a spike again in 2014. The data also indicates that there is a larger percentage of non-forest land that has been approved for the mining projects. In 2007, the distribution was 22% forestland and 78% non-forest land; in 2008, it was 33% forestland and 67% non-forest land; in 2009, the distribution was 26% forest land and 74% non-forest land.
There are a few national and international level developments that could help contextualise this. The Ministry of Mines set up the MB Shah Commission in 2010 to probe into illegal mining in several states including Odisha, Goa and Karnataka. While the Commission’s enquiry was underway, there was a slowdown in approvals to several iron ore mining projects. The Commission is said to have submitted its final report in mid-October, just before its term ended on October 16, 2013, as the term was not extended to be able to cover all states where illegal mining was reportedly underway.
State-wise distribution of environment clearances up to October 2017
Another reason for this could be the overall slowdown in the iron ore demand. In 2012, there was a global drop in demand for iron ore, thereby reducing the number of investors who would have pursued new projects and environmental approvals. Indian firms engaged in iron ore mining faced a big setback during this period and are yet to fully recover.
The Coalgate case and judgment also had a bearing on approvals to coal mining projects. On September 24, 2014, the much-awaited decision of the Supreme Court on the allocation of coal blocks was delivered. This direction followed an earlier judgment of August 25, 2014, rendering all coal mine blocks allocated through the government steering committee process since 1993, as illegal and arbitrary. 
The process of granting approvals saw a substantial slow down till the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 came into place, and the process of auctioning coal blocks was put into place. It is only late 2016 onwards that coal mining blocks that were re-auctioned began to seek fresh or transfer of environmental approvals.
2013 and 2014 saw a spike in approvals when minor mineral projects (even under 5 hectares) were made to go through the approval process following the orders of the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal. 166 minor mineral projects were approved in Punjab. However, related documents for these approvals have not been uploaded on the ministry’s website.

Infrastructure and CRZ projects

The Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for infrastructure and CRZ projects primarily looks at projects such as highways, pipelines, ports and SEZs. It also appraises real estate and construction projects. The projects under CRZ are all those projects which require approval under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. These could be power plants, tourism projects and sand mining projects in addition to the categories mentioned earlier.
From 2005-16, more than 1,21,797 ha of land was diverted for 694 infrastructure and CRZ projects with most of the land use change in non-forest areas. The total projects approved during this period were 1,325. However, information was not available for several projects, especially linear projects like pipelines and highways where the total land area or its break up is not disclosed on the ministry’s website.
Out of this 6,402 ha was forestland. In Mizoram, all the land use change was in the forest area because of the construction of one road project, which involved the use of 197 ha of forestland. The use of forestland for infrastructure projects is visible in states and union territories such as Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh. 
The use of forestland in Uttarakhand is essentially for three ropeway projects while in Uttar Pradesh it is for nine highway projects (both new constructions as well as upgradation). In J&K it is for two ropeway projects and one highway project.
Other lands for this sector include agricultural and grazing lands. On the coast, several fishing areas are revenue commons or held by government departments such as fisheries or ports. This could be one of the reasons that for the states, which have a coastline, the forestland diversions are minimal.
Sector-wise environment clearances across states with over 500 projects approvals (1968-2017)
The same data can also be analysed to understand the year-wise land use change for both forest and non-forest land from 2005-16 for 116 (out of 163) infrastructure and CRZ projects approved during that period. The maximum non-forest land was diverted during 2007 and 2014. This amounted to a total of 32,103 ha only for these two years. It is difficult to ascertain the exact reasons for the same.
However, the 2007 peak is because of the inclusion of building and construction projects in the new EIA notification, 2006, which were to be appraised by newly established state level institutions. In the interim, the MoEFCC approved these projects. When it comes to forestland, the big peak is in 2012, 2013 and 2016. The reasons for the same are unclear. 

Thermal Power

From 2005-16, more than 78,428 ha of land was diverted for 271 thermal power projects. This was both new as well as expansion projects. The total projects approved during this period were 552. However, information was not available for several projects, primarily because the website of the ministry either did not have documents uploaded or the environment clearance letters did not mention the land area required for the project.
The maximum amount of non-forest land was approved for thermal projects in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Some of these were extremely high profile projects where conflicts were reported, like the 4x300 MW Jaigad TPP in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra and 2x660 MW IL&FS TPP at Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu.
2,000 ha was forest land for the 25 of the total approved projects for which approval letters specified the breakup of land. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh saw maximum amount of forestland diverted during this period accounting to 1506 ha. Some of these projects include 4000 MW Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project in Jharkhand (621.59 ha) and 2x660 MW Coal Based Thermal Power Plant at village Salka, in Premnagar, Chhattisgarh (135.7 ha).
The maximum amount of land appears to have been approved during the years 2007-10. One reason for this is the increased investment of the private sector in thermal power generation. A record 52 projects were allocated to the private sector during 2007-09, which included Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) of groups such as Tata Power and Reliance Power. The other prominent actors were the Adani, Jaypee and Lanco. Following their allocation, several of these projects were granted environment clearance by the environment ministry.
Unlike other sectors, several projects granted environment clearance from 2005-16 were approved indicating that they would be built on approximately 8984 ha of land that was already in possession of the respective project proponents. This was the case with 109 expansion/replacement or augmentation projects. This includes Rihand Super Thermal Power Project Stage-III (2x500 MW) in Uttar Pradesh, which sought to utilise 295.42 ha that was already with the project proponent. The amount of land to be utilised for these projects ranged from 0.068 ha to 450 ha.
---
Download full report HERE

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…