New Delhi: The Centre’s forest panel has given its permission to state-owned miner NMDC to enter into Kalyandurg forest range in Ananthapur district, Andhra Pradesh for carrying out diamond exploration. The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), the apex body in the Union Environment Ministry that approves or rejects proposals for diversion of forest land — examined the proposal in the recent meeting.
“The FAC has approved the National Mineral Development Corporation’s (NMDC) proposal subject to some conditions,” a senior Environment Ministry official said. The company has not sought for diversion of forest land but has requested for the permission to enter into the Kalyandurg forest range for undertaking exploration activities. As per the proposal, the NMDC will drill 64 bore holes for diamond exploration in 153 hectare area in Ananthapur district.
It may be noted that mineral prospecting is exempted environmental clearance. But NDMC’s most famous Panna mine is due for closure after Supreme Court had asked the NMDC to shut down its Panna diamond mines by June 2016, due to ecological concerns. During last one decade, the Panna diamond mines have been closed thrice for want of environmental clearances and other related issues. The longest period for which it remained closed was from August 28, 2005 to June 19, 2009.
In September that year the Supreme Court revoked ban on diamond mine in Panna tiger reserve turning around its 2002 directive. In 2012, Tanzania had been granted NMDC four mining leases at the Bulyang’Ombe gold prospect, which is spread across 38.83 sq km, for 10 years.