Odisha lost 1,655 sq km forest cover in 2001-19 period due to mining: Study

The study which used a high-resolution global forest time series data claims that Koraput and Rayagada recorded the highest mean changes in forest cover.

Published: 19th January 2022 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2022 08:43 AM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha lost over 1,655 sq km forest cover between 2001 and 2019, mostly in tribal-dominated mineral rich districts, revealed a study establishing a link between mining activities and damage to green cover.

The study which used a high-resolution global forest time series data claims that Koraput and Rayagada recorded the highest mean changes in forest cover. Districts such as Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Kendrapara and Puri lost 20 per cent of their tree cover during the period.

The report titled 'Mining impacts on forest cover change in a tropical forest using remote sensing and spatial information from 2001-2019: A case study of Odisha' appeared in a recent edition of Journal of Environmental Management. The researchers used Hansen Global Forest Change data which defines forest cover as a canopy closure for all vegetation taller than 5 mtr. 

It found out that the highest values of forest cover loss (FCL) was reported in Kandhamal. The district lost about 459.94 sq km of forest cover. Another tribal-dominated district Rayagada recorded FCL of 261.3 sq km while Kalahandi lost about 213 sq km. Gajapati, Koraput, Keonjhar, Malkangiri, Ganjam and Nabarangpur were other districts where the net loss was among the highest.

While Kandhamal recorded the highest mean loss of 24.21 sq km, Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak were at the bottom. Keonjhar, the mining epicentre of the State, lost over 111 sq km against the tree cover of 749 sq km, the study said and pointed out that its highest FCL was reported in 2016.

The study period coincides with the Biju Janata Dal government which began its tenure in 2001.  The government started pushing industrialisation - mostly in the steel sector - around 2005 while its mineral extraction industry remained on a high.

The report suggests that green cover loss saw a spike post 2011 and presented an upward swing in mining districts after 2014 when the FCL stood at 456.95 sq km as compared to 349.41 sq km before the period. Kalahandi, Koraput, Keonjhar and Rayagada districts recorded the highest forest cover loss after 2014.  

Using geographical distribution of mines and refineries and spatial distribution and evolution of the total accumulated FCL within Odisha between 2001 and 2019, the study pointed out that FCL was concentrated in districts with the highest volume of mining, mainly near Koraput mine and Damanjodi refinery. 

“The Odisha Mining Corporation obtained clearance in 2018 for bauxite mining in the Kodingamalli hill tracts in Koraput, and this activity in the region has decreased the forest cover,” said the study. The State PSU’s bauxite production for 2020-21 stood at a robust 3 million metric tonne.

Stating that a connection exists between districts with the greatest damage to forest cover and the mining activities, the report also cited that districts such as Rayagada, Kalahandi and Koraput witnessed mass protests by indigenous tribal populations.

In Odisha, mining activity is expanding in a high-value forest area that is already subject to a host of other pressures as an increase of cropland, pasture, and population growth, it added.


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  • chandan

    Odisha's approach to mining is like selling gold and jewellery of your house in exchange of some food....its not sustainable...once mining is over these industries will dessert odisha.....we have to learn from UAE
    4 months ago reply
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