By Jayajit Dash
A draft report prepared by Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology University (CEPT) on carrying capacity study of mineral rich Joda-Barbil sector in Odisha has not found favour with the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).
The SPCB has trashed the CEPT report for glossing over the impact of mining operations on the environment and apparently giving a clean chit to the mining industry.
“There are some severe loopholes in the final draft submitted by CEPT on carrying capacity study of Joda-Barbil region. The CEPT study says there is no significant pollution due to mining activities. It only says pollution is caused while minerals are transported,” said a senior SPCB official
“The CEPT report has virtually given a clean chit to the mining industry. So, the report is not acceptable to us. The SPCB is going to have a fresh study on mineral carrying study of Joda-Barbil. We are also going to include Koira, another iron ore rich region, in our study,” he added.
Rampant extraction of ore from mines and subsequent transportation of this excess ore, burdening the existing road and rail infrastructure in the mine areas had raised concerns on the environment. The state government wanted a carrying capacity study for Joda-Barbil as well as Koira, that accounts for over 80 per cent of Odisha’s iron ore output. The state government had formed an 18-member committee chaired by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik to recommend the maximum quantity of ore that can be extracted from Joda and Koira. The recommendation was to be made factoring in environmental concerns as well as carrying capacity of existing road and rail infrastructure in the two mine rich belts.
Pursuant to the formation of this committee, it was decided to cap annual iron ore output of Joda at 40 million tonne and that of Koira at 12 million tonne. The cap on production was decided after the M B Shah Commission of enquiry, probing into large scale mining without lawful authority, had suggested to the state government to curb extraction of iron ore to ensure that the finite ore is left for posterity.