The government had also acceded to the merging of leases in Zone I and Zone II mining as defined in the Saradha mining plan released last year for the purpose of creating one common mining plan.
Though the Central government had defined 'no mining zones' in Jharkhand's Saranda forest, it has now accepted the state government's demands of "reassessing possibilities" of utilising state of the art technologies for extracting iron ore from these zones.
The government had also acceded to the merging of leases in Zone I and Zone II mining as defined in the Saradha mining plan released last year for the purpose of creating one common mining plan. Multiple officials in the environment ministry as well as the Jharkhand government confirmed the developments.
The ministry had last year released a "management plan" for sustainable mining, which laid down a roadmap for mining iron ore in resource-rich forests of Saranda, home to the Koena river and over 200 elephants. The forest is spread over Singbhum and Chaibasa districts. As per the plan, the government capped annual mining in Saranda-Chaibasa at 64 million tonnes per annum. Mining was only to be conducted on the eastern boundary, while all leases, including those of SAIL and Vedanta which fall in the Ankua forest block, were marked as no-go zones.
However, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubir Das had last year requested relaxations to the plan. The environment ministry then formed an expert panel chaired by the environment secretary CK Mishra to resolve the issue. Following meetings with the Jharkhand government, the panel issued minutes and accepted the state's demands to keep the door open for mining in the no mining zones.