Yugantar Bharati is working on the pristine Forest of SARANDA, since early 2011. The preliminary study showed that the protected and reserve forest of SARANDA are under threat due to unscrupulous mining of Iron and Manganese ore beneath the dense forest and other related economic activities. Beside deforestation, on soil erosion and destruction of rich biodiversity is other feature of distraction in SARANDA. Due to mining and deforestation the wild life movement has also been restricted and rivers and other water bodies in the area are also under severe threat Even a layman can estimate form naked eyes that the face of SARANDA is fast changing the inhabitants of the tribal dominated dense forest area of SARANDA has many tales to tell.
Saranda is pristine Sal forest cover an area of seven hundred hills spread over an area of about 820 square km area in weat Singhbhum district of Jharkhand State in India. There is abundance of Iron ore, Manganese and other minerals of varied quality beneath the dense forest cover of Saranda.
Beside plenitude of high grade Sal trees mainfold of herbs, shrubs grasses and variety of animals like elephants, sambar, cheetah, blue deer, tiger, leopard, bear and bison besides birds of different hues are found here making Saranda very rich in biodiversity. The tract in also rich in surface, subsurface and ground water resources with two major rivers Karo and Koyna passing through this area.
Yugantar Bharati in the year 2009 conducted a survey led by Prof. MK Jamuar to assess the comparative losses of biodiversity and natural resources potential and to its dismay found that a danger is looning large on the existence of the pristine glory of Saranda owing to the rat race onong the unscrupulous iron ore mining lobby backed by the men in administration to extract the precious underground natural resources at the cost of its ecosystem leading to acute pollution of land, water, air and wild life as well as fast disappearance of rich biodiversity.
Yugantar Bharati has under taken the “Save Saranda Campaign” with a view to conservation and augment the natural resources and arrest the decay in ecosystem of Saranda. It is also conducting a long termstudy namely “Changing face of Saranda” to identify the causes of degeneration in the ecosystem of Saranda and to find out appropriate solutions to arrest it is the main objective of the study of which an interim report will soon be produced. The study is lead by Dr. KK Sharma a Professor at the Co-operative College, Jamshedpur.
We are of the firm opinion that there is no dearth of laws, enactments, policies, porgrammes, provision and pronouncements with regard to mining in the reserved and dense forest areas. There are certain clauses embedded in constitution for protection of nature and living beings on the earth and in its atmosphere on the bases of which a plethora of enactments, regulations and regulate the pace of economic activities in this regard.
Yet the situatuion is worsening day by day. The reason behind it is that laws so made are violated more frequently than they are being observed for posterity. The handfuls of brilliant minds of our society who undertake oath of duly in the name of constitution and solemnly affirm to serve the people accordingly are in fact largely if not solely responsible for such predicament.
There is need to estimate the magnitude of the adverse inpact of unbridled economic activities, particularly the mining, trading and transportation of iron ore bulk, on the overall environment and ecology of Saranda so that a process of need based sustainable mining may be adopted within the overall tolerance limits of its ecosystem to insure the restoration of the pristine glory of Saranda Sal forests and other natural resources including its unviable rich biodiversity. A carrying capacity based developmental planning of Saranda in fact the need of hour.
- State should constitute an study for intensive documentation of biodiversity to identify rich biodiversity area falling within Saranda, Porahat, Kolhan, Chaibasa forest department and declare them as Wildlife Sanctuary or National Park under the provision of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Forest department should immediately identify all the perennial water sources within Saranda and Kolhan FD and assess its seasonal discharge. Reference needs to be taken from old compartment history to document historical perennial water sources. Restoration of river Koina and karo along with its feeding channel should be undertaken at earliest.
- State should immediate constitute a committee comprising of members from forest department, people representative, state pollution control board, mining department, administration and wildlife expert who are well versed with Saranda region to review the compliance status of forest and environmental clearance conditions and suggest the state government for corrective measure and actions against the violators.
- All the Forest and Environmental clearance conditions and their compliance should be made available in public domain. A public watchdog system should be institutionalizing to prevent corruption and irregularities in mining operations.
- State should ensure for effective participation of local people and stakeholders in forest and environmental clearance process.
- Mining permission should be given to only those corporate who are having Integrated Captive Steel Plants in the state and having capacity to undertake scientific mining. All the trading mines should be closed down with immediate effect.
- All the mining leases in Saranda should be re-evaluated to realignment the lease boundary so that scientific mining could be undertaken to complete recovery of minerals within particular lease.
- Mining should be permitted only in Ghatkuri and Karmapada reserved forest block only of Saranda in such way so that wider connectivity can be maintained for forest falling in Chaibasa & Kolhan forest division of Jharkhand and Kenonjhar and Bonai forest of Orissa. All the mining leases given in Ankua & Kodlibad reserve forest should be cancelled immediately to prevent fragmentation and degradation of prime elephant habitat.
- Road transportation of mineral should be phased out with closed conveyer system. Till the conveyer system developed the number of trips for mineral transportation should be reduced to maximum 300 dumpers per day.
- State should assess the potential of MFP and institutionalize the MFP collection and their marketing for livelihood of locals. Annuity should be given to locals whose forest area is going / gone for mining purpose to compensate their MFP and their livelihood issue.
- All the existing mining company should under Corporate Social Responsibility work in public consultation and focus on education, health and livelihood issue of locals.