New Delhi: The mountains in the vicinity of famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir will soon see mining activity with a high-level Environment Ministry panel giving a conditional nod to such a proposal.
The proposal by Jammu and Kashmir Mineral Development Corporation to exploit mangnesite at an ecologically sensitive hill owned by the shrine board has been approved by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife at a recent
meeting Chaired by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
The Committee also gave approval for setting up of Dead Burnt Magnesia Plant near a sanctuary, home to endangered species like leopard, goral and peafowl.
"...the committee after discussions recommended the proposal with the conditions proposed by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Jammu and Kashmir," a Ministry document said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Government`s proposal is to exploit 1240000 TPA (Tonnes Per Annum) High Grade Magnesite Deposit at Chirpprian Hills and setting up 30000 TPA Dead Burnt Magnesia Plant at Panthal, near Trikurta Wildlife Sanctury at Katra
"The magnesite mine pit is situated at Chipran hills near Panthal village and is at a distance of three kilometres from Trikut Wildlife Sanctuary. The Deat Burnt Magnesite (DBM) plant is 4.5 km from the Sanctuary. The non-forest private
land is under the ownership of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board," the document said.
"Rare and endangered species are found in the area. The proposal indicate presence of leopard, goral, peafowl etc in the sanctuary," the document said.
The mine lease area is 485.30 ha out of which on 17.92 ha of area is for mining of Magnesite. The Standing Committee on NBWL, in its meeting held in April this year, had recommended for denotification of the Trikuta Sanctuary with certain
The Chief Wildlife Warden of the state informed the committee that the state government had already started "the process of identification of areas to be notified as new sanctuary" as per suggestion of Standing Committee.
The conditions approved by the Ministry panel include the general protection measures and the specific conservation measures prescribed in the Wildlife Conservation Plan, including soil and moisture conservation, management
of grasslands and meadows, activation of anti poaching squad and awareness activities.
Eco-development works shall be carried out through the State Wildlife Department in the buffer zone at a cost of Rs 25 lakh per annum for a period of five years, it said.
The Committee also said a progressive mine closure plan should be prepared and implemented by the user agency under the supervision of the State Wildlife Department.
"The user agency while implementing the magnesite mining project will abide by the stipulations under Environment Protection Act, 1986 prescribed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests," it said.