Ministry allows mining in fragile coastal areas

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) Paving way to allow mining of atomic minerals, including the ‘rare earth’ mineral groups containing Uranium and Thorium, in the fragile and ecologically sensitive coastal areas, the Union Environment Ministry has relaxed the norms citing public interest and strategic applications.

The Ministry has thus also reconstituted the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZM), after amending the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011, thereby relaxing the guidelines through a notification dated October 6.

This will allow the mining of atomic minerals in the coastal zones even if they are found elsewhere. The amendments also includes the CRZ-I, the most ecologically sensitive of all four CRZs areas and essential for maintaining the coastal ecosystem.

“It will invite more private miners… since the notification also allows manual mining in the inter-tidal areas (between high tide and low tide areas) of CRZ-I, which is vulnerable and eroding,” Kanchi Kohli, legal research director at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), told IANS.

Pointing out that the notification were moved without taking the public feedback, Kohli stressed over the need of proper feedback and impact assessments.

“Atomic minerals are required for strategic and other requirements by the Department of Atomic Energy and are processed for strategic applications including power generation,” the Ministry said in the notification bringing amendments.

The major amendments had replaced the sub-clause (under CRZ Notification 2011) that allows the extraction or mining of rare minerals under exception that they are not found outside the CRZ area.

The norm has now been replaced by the general clause allowing “mining of atomic minerals notified under Part-B of the First Schedule of the Mining and Minerals (Development) Act, 1957 occurring as such or in association with one or other minerals”.

The atomic minerals, total 11, notified includes Beryl (and other bearing materials), Lithium, Mineral of the rare earth group containing Uranium and Thorium, Titanium bearing mineral and ores.

Meanwhile in the ‘No Development Zone (NDZ)’, where the extraction of only ‘rare minerals’ was allowed, the new amendments by substituting the general clause allows extraction of all 11 atomic minerals.

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