Environment Day: Reclaimed mined land supplement income of tribal villagers in Gumla


RANCHI: In a boost for tribal families whose land was taken on lease for bauxite mining are now reaping benefits as they are now augmenting their income by potato cultivation on the reclaimed land in the forest area in Jharkhand’s Gumla district.

A mango orchard in Jharkhand’s Gumla district. (HT Photo)

Besides growing potatoes, a few villagers are also growing mango and pear orchards on these reclaimed lands by the mining firm.

Samir Asur, 42, a member of the PVTG Asur, in Amtipani village under Gurdari police station limits said his family owns around 4 acres of land which is being used for potato cultivation after land reclamation.

“We are growing potatoes for the past three years. The yield is around an average of around 4 tonnes per acre. We make a profit of around 70 to 80 thousand per acre. All the produce is getting sold in the local markets close by. Presently, we are taking one crop in the rainy season, but we can grow two crops if we have better irrigation facilities,” said Asur.

Dinesh Oraon’s family owns around six acres of land and they have used their reclaimed land for mango and pear cultivation.

“Around 40-50 families are doing potato cultivation in Amtipani. Before our land was taken for mining, traditional agriculture was restricted to the cultivation of Gundli and Gora dhan (local rice species) as they require lesser water. However, their yield is low. Diversifying to potato cultivation and orchards has augmented our revenue,” said Dinesh.

Aluminum manufacturer Hindalco had acquired around 190.95 hectares of land at Amtipani in 2006, with a lease valid till 2056. This entire patch of land has an estimated reserve of 3.1 million tonnes.

“We have a production capacity of 1.5 lakh tonne per year. Of the total lease land, we have already mined 93 hectares and out of that, 83 hectares have been reclaimed. Currently, potato cultivation has already started in around 50 hectares,” said Prateek Kumar, mining head in the Lohardaga-Gumla sector, Hindalco.

Reclamation of land is a well-planned process that is processed on a real-time basis along with mining. “As the mining process begins, the topsoil, sub soil, and mining waste are kept separately. As moves forward, the refilling process is done with the waste overburden going first followed by the topsoil that completes the land reclamation,” a company executive said, explaining the declamation process.

A similar exercise is in process at Gurdari where mining has been happening since 1985. With around 8 million tonne reserves still left, the company has permission to mine till 2035, company officials said.

“The idea behind the reclamation and farming is to give back to nature against the exploitation we have done for the sake of development. Besides potato cultivation and orchard plantation, a few plots are also being developed as water bodies for fishery which would further augment the income of concerned farmers besides helping in improving ground water table in this patched area,” said Brajesh Jha, head of the mining vertical, Hindalco.

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