Jamshedpur, Oct 17: Contradicting the statements made by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) CMD D Acharya of getting nod for lease renewal, the forest department has accused the company of mining and processing uranium ore in the country, of violating of Forest Conservation Act.
Talking to the media persons on Friday, the regional chief conservator of forests, Singhbhum, Jamshedpur Y K S Chauhan said that we will not allow mining at Jadugoda unless lease in renewed. Though the first renewal was signed for twenty years from 1967 to 1987 with the condition that lease deed is subject to approval under Forest (Conservation) Act the company is indulged in mining without renewal of lease since 1987, said Chauhan.
However, UCIL has not obtained permission under the act, 1980 even UCIL submitted proposal for diversion of forest land in 1994. As such UCIL has carried mining operation from 1987 in violation of Forest Act. The mines is spread across 528.19 hectare while 134.42 is a forest land. He said that a lease deed for the first renewal was signed on January 31, 1987 for an area of 1312.62 acre in villages- Ichara, Bhatin and Tiliatarn of Singhbhum district with the condition that lease deed is subject to approval under Forest( Conservation) Act.
UCIL first got the mining lease at Jadugora uranium mines in 1967 for 20 years and subsequently the licence was renewed (described as first renewal) in 1987 for another 20 years that expired in 2007. Since then, the company has been carrying out mining in the area under deemed extension.
Chauhan further informed that a letter has been written to UCIL officials directing them to stop completely the non-forestry activities on forest land even after lease has been renewed. They have been asked to submit complete proposal under the Forest Act for diversion of forest land.
The regional chief conservator of forests further went on to add that since the Uranium is used as fuel in atomic power plants therefore an advanced planning should be required for difersion of forest land but UCIL has carried mining operation on forest land after October 16, 1997 without diversion of forest. He said that the company must obey Forest( Conservation) Act.
The Jadugoda mine is closed since September 7, 2014 following a state government directive which was taken in light of recent amendments in the Mineral Concession Rules – 1960 , for bidding mining under deemed extension.
“We have completed our work and we are hopeful to get the lease approval soon which will help us to maintain production level,” noted CMD.
The order is confined only to the Jadugora mines. All the other uranium mines- Bagjata, Narwapahar, Turamdih, Banduhurang (all in East Singhbhum) and Mohuldih ( in Seraikela-Kharsawan district) are working as usual.
UCIL was incorporated on October 4, 1967.
UCIL is a public sector enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy. It may also be noted that UCIL has adjusted around 700 employees of its oldest Jadugora mine in other mines and processing units temporarily since Monday last as the production activities in the mine came to a grinding halt following a government directive over a month ago.