Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI), which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Jharkhand government are said to be taking efforts to develop iron ore mines in the 800 sq km Saranda forest division of Jharkhand.
While the state government has reportedly prepared a list of 155 mines in the area, the CCI has already approved iron ore mining projects of two firms in the area.
One of the company that received CCI's nod for ore mining project in the area is Rungta Mines, which reportedly gave a jeep to the state forest department for conservation and protection of wildlife, besides providing mandatory funds for compensatory afforestation and attendant measures.
But development of mines in the Sal forest is not free from controversy. Some environment activists allege that the union environment ministry's statutory expert panel, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), has bypassed its rules and earlier orders to clear ore mining projects of the above three private firms in the area.
Although some section of the state government want to curb ore mining in the "ecologically-sensitive zone", others feel that mining project holds the key for "overall economic growth of state and country".
In fact, the state government came up with a `unique' model to enrich Saranda's pachyderm population by diverting funds from the gains made from mining activities.