Coal mining near Tadoba: Maharashtra government to oppose Centre’s move, Environmentalists write to PM on Bander coal block

Bander coal block opposition letter submitted to Chandrapur collector
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Nikhil Borkar

Chandrapur, June 24, 2020: Environmentalists and wildlife conservationists have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the removal of Bander coal block from the auction of coal India limited.

Meanwhile, after the Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray on Monday opposed auctioning of proposed coal blocks in Bander, today Maharashtra minister Vijay Wadettiwar said that the state government would oppose the centre’s proposal to conduct coal mining near TATR in Chimur tehsil of Chandrapur district.

Bander, coal block which was put for the auctioning in the list of 41 coal block released by the central government for commercial mining received has received opposition from environmentalists, wildlife conservationists, and the state government due to its location in the heart of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR).

The activists’ letter was sent to PM through the Chandrapur district collector today. “Chandrapur district is acclaimed for its highest number of tigers. As per the census of the year 2018, Maharashtra has a total of 312 tigers and Chandrapur district alone hosts the population of 160 tigers. However, due to shrinking habitat, there is insufficient space to accommodate such a large population of tigers.

The coal block falls within 7-9 km from the TATR core boundary and adjacent to the buffer boundary of the tiger reserve. It comes under the proposed eco-sensitive zone of TATR and will destroy the important habitat of tigers”, the letter states.

Bandu Dhotre, president of a non-governmental organization Eco-Pro, said, “In 1999 Ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) had rejected the proposal for the same block citing its adverse impact on wildlife around TATR, but now after 20 years the corridor was highly degraded and shrunken. Therefore, it will be highly irrational to re-allot, the rejected block for coal mining.”

As per the letter copy, TATR management had also identified this area as a threatened and degraded corridor and has proposed its restoration.