The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has decided that all mining projects coming up in the State in area above 10 hectares should get its environmental clearance.

The mining lobby had been exerting pressure on the government to issue an order that projects coming up in areas less than 25 hectares need not apply for environmental clearance. Till recently, area less than 5 hectares didn’t need environment clearance for mining operations.

As per the latest guidelines issued by the SEIAA, mining area less than 10 hectares will be classified as category B2 (environment clearance not required). Mining area above 10 hectares in the State will be classified as category B1 (require clearance).

In Tamil Nadu, mining area below 25 hectares come under the B2 category while area above 25 hectares is classified as category B1. The SEIAA in Andhra Pradesh has classified area below 25 hectares as B2 category and area above that as category B1. In Uttar Pradesh, area below 20 hectares comes under the B2 category while the area above it is classified as category B1.

The SEIAA Kerala decided to fix category B1 as mining area having more than 10 hectares considering the State’s particular scenario, with high density of population and scarcity of land. The authority also took into note the anticipated adverse impact of mining projects while fixing these categories.

SEIAA has also added certain new clauses to the general conditions of environmental clearance for mining projects. No mining operations should be carried out at places having a slope greater than 45 degrees. Blasting should be done in a controlled manner as specified by the regulations of explosives department or any other agency concerned.

The workers on the site should be provided with the required protective equipment, including ear muffs and helmet. At least 10 per cent out of the total excavated pit area should be retained as water storage areas.

Barbed metal wire fencing around the mining area/abandoned quarry should be provided with a height of not less than 5 feet to check accidents and to prevent waste dumping.

The SEIAA Kerala has cleared 15 mining proposals of the total 52 applications since its inception. Seven projects were denied clearance for violating various general conditions. The remaining applications were deferred for not meeting the guidelines proposed by the authority.

Courtesy: The Hindu