Industries Department asked to stop reconnaissance survey
The Forest Department has served a show-cause notice on De Beers India Limited for conducting “reconnaissance survey” of the forestland without obtaining permission.
The department has asked the Industries and Commerce Department to forthwith stop reconnaissance survey, if any, proposed by the firm over the forest land. The Forest department has asked the Industries department to explain how the permission for reconnaissance survey was issued without consulting the officials concerned. The permit, according to Forest Minister P. Ramachandra Reddy, was issued in violation of three Acts governing forests and wildlife.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, he clarified that Reconnaissance Permits (RP's) were issued to De Beers by the Industries and Mines and Geology departments to conduct survey for diamonds, precious stones, gold, copper, lead, zinc, etc. over 6,000 sq km (6 lakh hectares). Of this, only 15,341 hectares was found to be falling within the reserve forest zone. “This forest area was not in Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Reserve”.
Mr. Reddy, accompanied by K.D.R. Jayakumar, Special Secretary, Forests & Science and Technology, said it was mandatory to take prior permission from the department in case of any such reconnaissance surveys in future.
Referring to the concerns expressed at a meeting of the House Committee on Wildlife and Environment in October on some aircraft flying low over the forest area in Mahabubnagar district, the Minister maintained that his department was not aware of this and claimed that aircraft flying over forest or wildlife sanctuary was not prohibited.
He said his department would come into the picture when permission was required to drill boreholes to collect soil samples from forestland and when De Beers commenced “prospecting activity” in RP area.
It could permit up to 10 boreholes of 4 inch dia per 10 sq.km. If more boreholes were sought to be drilled, clearance would have to be obtained from the Union government.