Bhubaneswar: The proposed plan of the state government to divert 1,038 hectares of forest and revenue land for facilitating open cast mining in the Jharsuguda district for the Talabira II and Talabira III mining has now come under lens.
A number of villagers under the banner of Talabira Gramya Jungle Committee have written to the Chief Secretary of the state government asking him to intervene into the matter. The villagers accused the district administration of using forged Gram Sabha resolutions to acquire forest land for mining purpose.
The affected village has 450 households and a population of around 3,000. The complainants claim that the villagers traditionally protect and are dependent on the forest to an extent of around 1,000 acres. They have been managing its affairs through a committee named Talabira Gramya Jungle Committee for more than 50 years.
The letter to the Chief Secretary claimed that the local communities are highly dependent on the forest for their livelihood. Raising their objections to the allotment of the forest lands for mining purpose, the letter said, “Neither any Palli Sabha was called, nor did the Committee give consent for diversion of forest land. The claim settlement process was never initiated in this village over the forest land to be diverted.”
The letter also added, “However the Committee is surprised to find a forged gram sabha resolution dated July 12, 2012 claiming people have no rights over the forest. This resolution has been manufactured and a forged one as no villager has given any kind of consent for gram sabha to divert the forest land.”
According to the official correspondences, the state government, in their letter dated May 5, 2014 submitted a proposal to obtain prior approval of the Union government for diversion of 1,038.187 hectares of Revenue and DLC forest land including 4.051 hectares under safety zone within the lease hold area of 1914.063 hectares allocated for opencast coal project (OCP) in Jharsuguda and Sambalpur Forest Division within the jurisdiction of Jharsuguda district and Sambalpur district of Odisha.
In their communication with the Centre, it has informed that the district administration is in possession of the Palli Sabha resolution certification with the signatures of villagers. The resolution confirms that it does not pose any threat to any erosion, does not threaten any wildlife sanctuary or park which hosts endangered species. The state has pointed out that due to its coal bearing nature the forest land should be diverted for mining.