HYDERABAD: The Forest Advisory Committee of the Central government has, in principle, approved the exploration of uranium reserves in Nallamalla forests by the Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD). However, this might not be enough to go ahead with exploration works as the ball, it seems, is in the Telangana government’s court. It has to scrutinise the AMD’s proposals in a ‘Form C’ and then upload it on ‘Parivesh’, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF)’s website.
In fact, as Express found out, the Deputy Inspector General of Forests, MoEF has sent two letters in the last four months, addressed to the Principal Secretary of the Environment and Forests department, requesting for submission of ‘Form-C’. While one letter was sent recently on September 3, the other was sent on June 19, a month after the FAC gave in-principal approval in its meeting on May 22.
A senior official in the Forest Department told Express that the proposal to be submitted in Form-C needs to be thoroughly scrutinized for various details such as the number of boreholes that would have to be dug, the size of each borehole and size of the equipment to be used, all of which would take considerable time.
The proposal seeking clearance for uranium exploration over 83 square kilometres in the Nalamalla forests, of which 76 sqkm lies in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, was submitted by the AMD earlier in the ‘Form-A’.
As per the amended Forest Conservation Act of 2014, all mining-related project proposals for forest clearance must be submitted in ‘Form-C’.Despite the AMD not submitting the proposal for uranium exploration in the required format, the FAC gave in-principle approval due to its “critical importance from the national perspective”, according to the minutes of the meeting.
However, it mentioned that the approval is “subject to the submission of all required document/information in the due format” and once it is received, the complete proposal should be placed before a competent authority again for approval.
It may also be mentioned here that the NBWL gave approval to the exploration proposal as long ago as in 2017, maintaining that the move was important, “considering the strategic importance of uranium for a developing country.’’