The sudden demand for low grade iron ore in China has resulted in 1.25 crore square metres of forest land being diverted for mining in the last three years, according to a reply given by Minister for Forests Filipe Neri Rodrigues in the Legislative Assembly.
However, he said the diversion of forest land has been done as per the provisions of law and further pointed out that the authority to sanction such change of forest land is the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Central government which has also laid down conditions.
Forest land has been changed for mining purpose in the talukas of Bicholim, Sanguem, Quepem and Sattari and the firms that got the land use changed are Salgaocar Pvt. Ltd., V S Dempo & Company (which has since sold their mining business), Pai Palondicar, R P Timblo, Elray Minerals & Co.
According to the reply, the lease granted to these mining companies will expire in 2027.
He further stated that the mining firms have to deposit amount towards Compensatory Afforestation (CAMPA) and Net Present Value (NPV) of the forest area diverted.
In another reply, he informed that in the last three years, the government has collected Rs. 46.30 crore through CAMPA and NPV and further added that 150 hectares of land has been taken up of afforestation by planting around 3 lakh seedlings in degraded forest land having a canopy density of less than 0.6 per cent.