Post-KIOCL, Bhadra takes a new birth

Post-KIOCL, Bhadra takes a new birth

Sedimentation has reduced drastically; mining area set to be a tiger reserve

The KIOCL stopped mining operations in 2008, following a Supreme Court order. Wildlife experts, who spoke to a few farmers downstream, found that the changes were already visible.

“There used to be silt deposit in the river during mining operation. But within a couple of years since the mining came to halt, the natural recovery process has set in,” said Niren Jain, co-ordinator, Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation. He said there have also been indications of revival of vegetation, which was once endangered by moss accumulation.

Praveen Bhargav, managing trustee, Wildlife First, said tonnes of sediment used to enter the river during mining, which now had come down drastically. “The change needs to be analysed with fresh data,” he added.

With all the signs of natural habitat coming to life and the Supreme Court dismissing a curative petition filed by KIOCL employees, wildlife enthusiasts are now of the opinion that time has come for the company for ‘actual wind-up’ and move out of the National Park, tipped to be a tiger reserve now.

Eco-tourism dismissed

The apex court order has even thwarted the KIOCL proposal of eco-tourism. The court has ignored the plea. The company, according to wildlife enthusiasts, had stated that the money generated from eco-tourism would help maintain the National Park.

“The apex court ignored the plea on eco-tourism plan and directed that the mine closure plan be implemented,” said Bhargav.

Stating that the company’s possession of land is illegal, he said one of the conditions of lease is that if the lessee continued to maintain plant and machinery within six months of demise of lease, they stand forfeited to the State government. He urged the government to act accordingly.

Tiger sightings

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has also written to the chief minister in February 2011 to ensure that the mining unit is moved out. He has also suggested that the proposal for tiger reserve be forwarded.

Sources in Forest Department said a report to declare the region a tiger reserve has already been prepared. The authorities also said the region noted for sizeable population of rare and endangered lion, tailed macaque, is now known for frequent tiger sightings too.