After halting Adani mining work, panel to probe tree cutting
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    Raipur, Jun 12 (PTI) A day after halting mining work
by Adani Enterprises in Chhattisgarh, the Congress government
in the state Wednesday initiated a probe into alleged illegal
felling of trees to construct an approach road in the area.
    The mining work was stopped after protests by tribals
in Dantewada against a contract awarded to Adani Enterprises
Ltd to mine iron ore deposits in a hill in the Bailadila
    The state forest department has initiated a probe into
alleged illegal felling of trees to construct an approach road
in the area, an official said.
    Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel Tuesday ordered a halt
to all pre-mining works at the Deposit-13 site in Bailadila
hills amid protest by tribals against iron ore excavation,
contract for which was given to Adani Enterprises Ltd last
year when the BJP was in power in the state.
    On orders of Baghel, the state forest department has
set up a three-member committee to probe the alleged illegal
deforestation in the area to make away for an approach road to
the site in the Kirandul area of Dantewada, the official said.
    Tribals in the area have launched an indefinite
protest against iron ore excavation in Bailadila, where one of
the hills is revered as a deity by them.
    They launched the protest under the banner of the
Sanyukt Panchayat Samiti since June 7. The hill revered by the
tribals is in the Bailadila Iron Ore Mining Area belonging to
National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC), a Central PSU.
    "On Baghel's direction, principal chief conservator of
forest (PCCF) Rakesh Chaturvedi issued an order to constitute
a three-member committee to probe the alleged cutting of trees
in the iron ore Deposit-13 site of NMDC," the official said.
    The panel will be headed by additional PCCF (land
management) Atul Shukla and will have chief conservator of
forest, Jagdalpur Circle, and divisional forest officer,
Dantewada division, as its members.
    The committee will submit its report on deforestation
to Chaturvedi and will also ensure that no illegal felling of
trees takes place in the area, the official said.
    The 10 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity
Bailadila iron ore Deposit-13 is being developed by a joint
venture company called NCL, formed by NMDC and the
Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation.
    The contract for excavation and mine development at
the site was awarded to Adani Enterprises and tree-cutting
work was underway to build an approach road to the mining site
on the hill, the official said.
    A delegation led by Bastar Congress MP Dipak Baij
Tuesday met the chief minister and complained about illegal
felling of trees in the area and also informed him about the
ongoing protest by tribals against mining there.
    The chief minister has also asked officials to examine
claims, made by the delegation, that a "fake" gram sabha was
held in 2014, when the BJP was ruling the state, to obtain
approval of local residents for the project.
    Baghel had assured the delegation that the state
government will initiate correspondence with the Centre over
the issue and apprise it about local people's sentiments.
    V S Prabhakar, Chief Executive Officer of NCL, had
earlier said tribals' religious rights will be unaffected due
to mining on the hill and they can offer prayers to their
deity even after excavation and production starts there.
    The protest has disrupted iron ore production in three
NDMC mines near Kirandul town, which is around 400 km south of
the state capital Raipur. PTI TKP GK RSY VT