Sounds of silence

DEVELOPMENT

Sounds  of silence

STILLNESS The vacant  quarters,  Photos by the authorThere was a time when the very word ‘Kudremukh’ (literally means horse-face in Kannada) brought many associations in the minds of thousands of people. That of a thriving mining township, where thousands lived, or that of a picture-perfect hillspot.

Today, the thunderous sound of huge drills and shovels (which can pick 32 tonnes of ore per scoop) or the huge dumpers with 120 tonne capacity have fallen quiet, ever since the prestigious profit-making mini-rathna company closed its operations on December 31, 2005, following a Supreme Court directive.

In fact, there are hardly 3,000 people who reside in the tiny, but picturesque Kudremukh township today which once bustled with over 30,000 people.

The number of employees too has dipped to 357 from 1,260 and so has the frequency of bus services and number of bank branches and other essential services. From 28 to 30 buses in 2005 to eight buses at present, the valley amidst the Western Ghats wears a deserted look.

Out of the 1,922 quarters of the employees and 18 bungalow-type quarters of officers, almost 90 per cent of them are lying vacant. Cobwebs have found a place for themselves in many quarters while many others are mute witness to the glorious history of this place. However, Kudremukh park is still in a good condition. Paradise lost is perhaps the best way to describe this serene valley.

Keeping the identity, reputation and brand image intact and by retaining the short form of KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited) and also the logo of the Company, the authorities concerned decided to rename the company ‘KIOCL Limited’ with effect from January 22, 2009.

Eco-tourism

Because state-of-the art infrastructure is available at Kudremukh (with over 1,500 empty quarters), KIOCL Limited has sent a proposal to the Government of Karnataka to start eco-tourism in the valley in association with Jungle Lodges and Resorts. “The State government too has shown keen interest and a DPR (detailed project report) has already been drawn up recently,” said KIOCL General Manager V Bobraj Jeyaharan, speaking to Spectrum.

“A joint venture with Jungle Lodges and Resorts is in the pipeline,” he said and added that if materialised, it will be a one-of-its-kind in India. Giving more details on the same, he said if at all the eco-tourism project materialises, then plans are on the anvil to start a mining show (for example, by creating an artificial mine) and also to develop a herbal garden among other tourism related activities.

Lakya dam

Though a large portion of the 100 meter high earth - fill dam across the Lakya tributary is filled with silt (iron ore slurry), there is ample water in the catchment area which is approximately 18 square kilometres. The Lakya dam area is about 6 square kms. The valley has about 180 million cubic metre water while its full capacity is 240 million cubic metres.

There are six other valleys surrounded by water, each measuring upto one km, according to an officer. In fact, even to this day, the KIOCL pellet plant in Mangalore uses this water through its 67-km long pipeline which gushes through gravitational force!
In the case of government giving a go-ahead for eco-tourism in the valley, there is ample opportunity for state-of the art water sports in the valley, which is unexplored by human habitat even to this day. The crystal clear water here is as pure as it can be.

Afforestation

As part of its afforestation programme, the company has already planted nearly 7.5 million saplings to prevent mine run-off and soil wash-off, out of which about 4 lakh saplings have been planted in the mined area.

How to reach

Kudremukh is about 110 kms from Mangalore (Dakshina Kannada district); 48 kilometers from Karkala (Udupi district) and about 20 kilometers from Kalasa (Chikmagalur district).
The road from Mangalore to Kudremukh is one of the best roads, perhaps in the State.

Laid in 1970s by the Border Road Organisation for KIOCL to transport their huge machinery from Mangalore port to the plant, the road is still ‘the best’ without any potholes or damages, says A S Ramappa, an officer at KIOCL.

KIOCL FEATURES

* Mining lease area: 4,605 ha
* Forest land: 3,203.55 ha
* Revenue land: 1,220.03 ha
* Private Land (KIOCL): 181.44 ha
* Mineralised area: 525 ha
* Mineralised broken area: 480 ha
* Mine capacity: 22.5 MLT (crude ore)
* Concentrator capacity: 7.5 MLT

Ore reserves

* Geological reserves: 680 MLT
* Mineable reserves: 430 MLT
* Crude ore mined upto Dec 2005:         324 MLT (39% FE)
* Concentrate produced: 110 MLT        (67.6 FE)

Ore reserves in and around Kudremukh

* Nellibeedu: 47 MLT
* Gangadikal: 370 MLT
* Primary ore (Kudremukh): 320 MLT
* Soft weatherd ore (Kudremukh):           47 MLT

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