• Mining Lease in Tiger Reserve to Oil India Deferred in Arunachal

    A central committee has deferred a petroleum mining lease in Arunachal Pradesh to Oil India Limited and has sought clarity from the state government relating to compliance of forest protection laws. The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change (MoEFCC) held a meeting on November 10 – the minutes of which were released recently- to discuss the prospect of granting a petroleum mining lease in favour of the chief engineer, Oil India Limited, Duliajan in Ningru extension block at Changlang district.

    The state government had sought the Centre’s permission to provide the lease which would cover over 540 square km of forest land. The proposal had sought the lease without inviting any physical diversion of forest land. However, the FAC noted in the November 10 meeting that the compliance of Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was not given. As per the minutes of the November 10 meeting, the proposal was also discussed almost a decade back on 9 August 2007. Back then the FAC had advised the project proponent to consult the principal secretary (forests) and the PCCF, as well as the nodal officer of the state government and to bifurcate the proposal according to the requirement of forest land and to submit separate proposals, one for exploration and another for diversion of forest land for oil well drilling and infrastructure facilities.

    The committee had also earlier noted that a site inspection report conducted by the regional office of the MoEFCC did not show the reserve forests of Tengapani, Diyun, Honkap, Namgoi and Rima in the Survey of India Toposheet that was submitted. It said that compartment numbers were either depicted in this map with GPS-Coordinate authenticated by the Divisional Forest Officer, which “clearly reflected that proper site identification by the field officers as per the Approved Working Plan of Namsai and Nampong has not been carried out” and that the “entire exercise of survey, demarcation and to determine the forest land illegally occupied by the people” needs to conducted again.

    In its recommendations, the FAC has sought the comments of the National Tiger Conservation Authority before moving ahead on the proposal. It said that the “proposed area for petroleum mining lease appears to be in Namdapha Tiger reserve”. The Namdapha reserve is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is the only park in India to have four big cat species, like leopard, tiger, clouded leopard and snow leopard. The committee has also sought comments from the state government on the site inspection report on the regional office of the MoEF&CC. It also said that the state government shall submit complete compliance on Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in accordance with Ministry’s guidelines. Earl Thomas III Authentic Jersey

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