Malkangiri: A mining lease-holder has become a scapegoat and been forwarded to local court amidst the tussle between the Revenue and Forest departments in Malkangiri district, a report said.
According to sources— a stone-crusher owner was given lease by Revenue department officials after conducting a thorough survey of the 6.333acre-land under reference. Subsequently, the Mining department permitted the leasee for mining on the identified land.
The lease-holder named Bijaya Sahu had applied for mining permission to run a stone-crusher on a forestland at Rengabandha village of Chalanguda panchayat under Malkangiri Sadar tehsil limits.
Subsequently, after scrutinising the documents he submitted, Bijaya was awarded mining permission for five years, vide Mining department letter (No.-2599/XIV, Dtd.-22.07.2016). However, for one or other reasons, he started mining activity late.
Even both Revenue and Mining departments had then clarified that a clearance certificate or official order from Forest department is not necessary, as no forest exists on the identified land.
Acting on a tip-off, three months before that, 79 trees have been cut down in the area, forest officials including Assistant Forest Conservator Srikant Nayak, Malkangiri Divisional Forest Officer Basudev Nayak, local forester and forest guards verified the area.
It was then found that as per the government records (Top City Map of 1951) the said area has been shown as Siadimala Reserve forest and hill. Later on in 1992, the area was mentioned as protected forest in the Forest department records instead.
However, at present the Siadimala protected forest area has five beat houses of the department. Forest Protection Committees comprising 32 nearby villages have been formed and Panchajala forest guard has been appointed to protect this forest.
Furthermore, the forest department has constructed several check-dams, carried out plantations and conducted various programmes for awareness on soil erosion and forest conservation.
It is known that the leased out area where Sahu has started blasting for his crusher is a dense forest which houses scores of wild animals like: bear, deer, barking deer, hare, peacock and many others.
Reacting to this Assistant Conservator of Forests Nayak said, “The Forest department will conduct thorough investigations as to under which circumstances the forestland was leased out.”
Forest department arrested Sahu and filed a case (No.-119/19-20) based on the FIR (No.-0158955) lodged by beat-house concerned. Later, the leasee Sahu is said to have obtained bail order from the local court and investigation is underway.
Notably, similar mining lease cases are also reported from Chedenga Reserve forest under Mathili police limits and many other places in Malkangiri district, some forest officials revealed seeking anonymity.
Giving his views, Rengabandha tehsildar Gunanidhi Nayak said, “The leasee was refused to setup stone-crusher at the disputed location. However, the land of 6.333 acres, where he has been awarded mining rights, belongs to the Revenue department.”