Mining near Vaishno Devi shrine cleared

The proposal by Jammu and Kashmir Mineral Development Corporation to exploit magnesites at an ecologically sensitive hill owned by the shrine board has been approved by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife at a recent meeting Chaired by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan.

The committee also gave approval for setting up of Dead Burnt Magnesia Plant near a sanctuary, home to endangered species like leopard, goral and peafowl. “The committee after discussions recommended the proposal with the conditions proposed by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Jammu and Kashmir,” a Ministry document said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government’s proposal is to exploit 1,240,000 TPA (tonnes per annum) high grade magnesite deposit at Chirpprian Hills and setting up 30,000 TPA dead burnt magnesia plant at Panthal, near Trikurta Wildlife Sanctuary at Katra District.

“The magnesite mine pit is situated at Chipran hills near Panthal village and is at a distance of three kilometres from the Trikut Wildlife Sanctuary. The Deat Burnt Magnesite (DBM) plant is 4.5 km from the sanctuary. The non-forest private land is under the ownership of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board,” the document said. “Rare and endangered species are found in the area. The proposal indicate presence of leopard, goral and peafowl in the sanctuary,” the document said.

The mine lease area is 485.30 ha out of which on 17.92 ha of area is for mining of magnesite. The standing committee on NBWL, in its meeting held in April this year, had recommended for denotification of the Trikuta Sanctuary with certain conditions. The chief wildlife warden of the state informed the committee that the state government had already started “the process of identification of areas to be notified as new sanctuary” as per suggestion of standing committee.

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