Denotify Unutilised Coal Zone

Odisha Government has decided to move a request to the Centre to denotify areas in Coal Zones where there is “no plan” for mining operations in near future.

Sources said the Chief Secretary AP Padhi has held talks with the senior officials of the Department of Steel & Mines in this regard recently.
The Department of Steel & Mines is in touch with the District Administrations of Angul and Jharsuguda for collecting details in this regard.
The Union Ministry of Coal will be approached to denotify those areas where MCL has no plan to take up mining activities.
While hundreds of acres of land have been notified under Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957,(CBA) Act, there is hardly any mining operations being taken up by the coal major, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL).
Thousands of villagers are suffering in these areas as there is hardly any village development work taken up because these areas are falling under purview of the CBA Act.
Peoples’ representatives of Angual and Jharsuguda have time and again raised the issue and have been urging the State Government to take up the matter with the Union Government.
Official record shows that over 60 Percent of land in these districts notified under the purview of Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957.
Both the districts are highly populated and there is hardly any scope to take up developmental activities in the areas notified under CBA Act.
In  Angul over 20 Gram Panchayats are notified under CBA Act for years together and no mining activities has been taken up in the area.
Villagers in these areas are deprived of getting Indira Awas, Bju Pucca Ghar or even a tube well, for which they are suffering.
Anil Samal, Collector Angul has raised the issue during the recently held Collectors’ Conference and brought it to the notice of the State Administration about the plight of the hapless people in the Coal Zone.
Similarly, the much-talked about The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 leaves Odisha saddled with a fresh set of concerns unique to it.
The 2013 Act doesn’t have much significance in the state which has some of India’s richest mineral and coal reserves as most of the land acquired fall under the purview of the CBA Act.
Officials term it as “headache” because under it, the Centre can, and often does, peremptorily issue notices to acquire land, leaving Odisha officials to deal with the messy fallout of displacement, compensation and rehabilitation.
In many cases, the displaced don’t get compensation, with protest movements simmering and flaring up for decades.
Officials feel changes are required and State be given more powers under the CBA Act, 1957. 
By way of a simple notification, the Centre acquires land in and around coal mines under the CBA 1957 Act. Provisions of The Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA), Forest Rights Act, among others get violated in the process, said a senior official.
Even as it is not known whether the Union Government will tinker the CBA Act, 1957, Centre is mulling to bring few changes in the peoples’ oriented Act passed under UPA regime, said sources.

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