The Forest Department has got an upper hand over revenue and mines departments when it comes to according permissions for mining activity in the forest area. The district administration has decided not to allow mining activity in the forest area without the prior consent of the department. In the absence of accurate survey and proper land records, both revenue and mines departments have reportedly granted mining leases in reserve forest area of Saluru and Parvatipuram.
Having taken notice of it, a high-level committee comprising Collector M. Hari Jawaharlal, Paravatipuram ITDA Project Officer Vinod and other officials has recently decided not to grant mining leases. The panel feel that allowing mining in forest area would lead to legal tangles and draw the attention of Supreme Court of India which is keen on protection of environment.
The committee has also observed that mining should not be allowed in hilly areas and places with thick greenery developed in natural way even as they do not necessarily come under the reserve forest area.
According to sources, Forest Department opposed the mining leases granted in Sangamvalasa of Paravatipuram division, arguing that 568 acres were coming under reserve forest area as per the previous orders. District Forest Officer G. Lakshman brought the issue to the notice of the higher authorities, seeking cancellation of the lease permissions.
Statistics suggest that Vizianagaram district has greenery in 1.14 lakh hectares, only 18 % of the total geographical area.
The high-level committee has also decided to cancel the D Pattas issued to various people from Marika, Sangamvalasa, Veduruvada and other areas. It has planned to notify 22 blocks and assured to verify the permissions allegedly accorded in violation of rules to mine manganese ore at Putikavalasa village. The committee has expressed concern over the ‘illegal occupation’ of forest land in Muccharlavalasa, D. Venkaiahpeta and other places.
The district administration may allocate equal extent of land to Forest Department and promise to clear the houses constructed ‘illegally’ in various mandals such as Kurupam, Gummalakshmipuram, Jiyyammavalasa, Garugubilli, Parvatipuram, Saluru, Pachipenta and other places. A high-level land survey will also be conducted at Eguvamanda, Akulakatta, Jukuru, P.K.Rajapuram, Veeranarayanapuram and other places to find out a solution over the disputes between revenue and forest departments.
“The State government is keen on protecting forest lands. That is why it has cancelled the bauxite mining leases recently. We are hopeful that it would take steps to cancel all mining leases granted in violation of rules in Vizianagaram district,” a forest official said.