RAIPUR: The Congress government will decide the fate of the nation’s first gold mine auctioned three years ago in Chhattisgarh.
During the first review meeting, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel called for a scrutiny of the project on the mining lease allotted to the Vedanta Limited in February 2016.
The gold mine at Baghmara (Sonakhan) in Baloda Bazar district, about 140 km north-east of Raipur, was auctioned for granting a composite license of prospecting license-cum-mining lease.
Baghel, who is also in charge of the mining portfolio, said that the region is associated with the legacy of freedom fighter Veer Narayan Singh.
“Permission for mining gold in the native village of Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh is concerning. His birthplace is historically important. It will be reviewed under what circumstances the lease was given,” the CM said.
Despite repeated attempts, there was no comment from Vedanta over the latest development. “The area which has been leased is near Veer Narayan Singh’s village assumes significance as it is a heritage spot.
The project shouldn’t impact the region. Every aspect will be examined before taking a decision,” Secretary Gaurav Dwivedi (department of mines) said.
Activists had raised objections when the mine was auctioned. “The area has dense forest and is barely 100 metres from the eco-sensitive zone. The process of allocation appears to be against the regulations,” said wildlife enthusiast Nitin Singhvi.
Around 133 hectares allocated to mining falls under the Barnavapara sanctuary following which Vedanta wrote to the department of mines, and the mining area consequently was reduced from the total area allotted by 22 percent in March 2017.
“After the area was altered and got smaller, there should have been re-tendering, this was not done. Vedanta got undue favor from previous government,” asserted another activist Mamta Sharma.