Govt inducts mining baron into wildlife board

Govt inducts mining baron into wildlife board

In an unabashed move that shows total disregard for the conflict of interest, the government has inducted a mining baron into the State Wildlife Board which, ironically, clears proposals for mining and remains the top authority for implementing wild life projects.

The government notification on the reconstitution of the Board dated January 18, 2020 doesn't provide any reason for removing four of the members. However, conservationists and activists were shocked to see the name of Dinesh Kumar Singhi, the CEO and Managing Director of Bharat Mines & Minerals and CEO of BMM Ispat Ltd, as a new member of the board. 

The board reviews applications of developmental projects such as mining, highways, dams and other similar activities that come up in or around tiger reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and other protected areas. 

The presence of Singhi on the board, therefore, was seen as a clear violation of the neutrality required by the board to decide on such projects. 

The Lokayukta report on illegal export of iron ore had noted that Bharat Mines and Mineral (BMM) had exported 2.11 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri. “On verification it is found that permits for only 16368 MT of iron ore, for Belekeri, were issued, with BMM as party, during the above mentioned period. This indicates that the remaining 127566.88 MT of the iron ore was illicit,” it had said.

While officials within the Forest Department said they were unaware of the development, Forest Minister C C Pail, who also holds the portfolio of the Mines and Geology from Commerce and Industries Department, said he did not know the antecedents of Singhi.

““I did not know about any of this. If a member is tainted, he will be removed. I will look into the issue and take a decision by tomorrow afternoon,” he told DH.

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