The Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to relax norms for mining of atomic minerals like uranium in coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas in the country, keeping in mind India’s growing need for atomic energy.
The environment ministry amended the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011 on October 6, saying “atomic minerals are required for strategic and other requirements by the Department of Atomic Energy and are processed for strategic applications including power generation”.
The amendment allows mining of atomic minerals like uranium, thorium, titanium, Tantallium and zirconium in the CRZ areas. As per old rules, atomic minerals mining in coastal areas were only allowed if they were not available in non-coastal areas.
The notification by Harsh Vardhan led environment ministry says the decision has been taken “in public interest”. The notification is expected to open inter-tidal areas, which are considered fragile, in coastal stretches for mining.
According to environmentalists, the notification will open the fragile coastal area for mining and weakens the regulatory mechanism which was provided under the CRZ.
“This will open the mining of rare minerals in fast eroding coastal areas that needs to be protected. Earlier, mining of rare minerals was allowed in CRZ areas only, if rare minerals were not available in other areas,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal research director at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR)-Namati Environmental Justice Programme.
The Central Government declared certain coastal stretches as Coastal Regulation Zone in 2011 and restrictions were imposed on the setting up and expansion of industries, operations and processes in the said Zone.
The decision is of huge importance as NDA government is looking to increase country’s installed nuclear capacity to 63 Gigawatts (GW) by 2032 from the present 6.7 GW.
The environment ministry has, however, put some restrictions on the mining process to be followed and said only manual mining shall be done. This mean the mining operations undertaken without deploying or using drilling and blasting or heavy earth moving machinery in the intertidal zone. Read more
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