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KSPCB says its hands are tied

Pollution Control Board issues notices to 12 of its officials in 3 districts
Last Updated : 04 October 2011, 17:42 IST
Last Updated : 04 October 2011, 17:42 IST

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KSPCB issued show cause notices to 12 of its officials in three districts on September 22, as to why action should not be initiated against them, with the Lokayukta report on illegal mining pointing fingers at the Board too.

The Lokayukta report has not named any KSPCB official, but it has stated that the Board did not discharge its duty properly. The Lokayukta stated that the consent given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and KSPCB was found quite arbitrary in many cases.

The production increased in some cases manifold, without looking into the reserve available, the term of the leases and the environment impact. It is common knowledge that the environment (air and water) was highly polluted in the region.

Such type of arbitrary consent should be stopped forthwith. A specific opinion of the Mines Department should be taken by the Ecology and Environment department, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and KSPCB, the report said. The following KSPCB officials have been served show cause notices:

Tumkur region - M Lakshman, senior environment officer, Shanmugha, Siddaramaiah, Ramesh D Naik (all environment officers). Bellary region: Kotresh, senior environment officer, S Madhusudan, Kotresh, Bhimsingh Gowgi, Kiran Kumar, K M Raju (all environment officers).

Karwar region: Gopalakrishna Santhangi, Jagadish, Somashekar Hiregowdar (all environment officers).  A S Sadashivaiah, KSPCB chairman, said: “We have served notices on those who were working in Tumkur, Bellary and Karwar in 2007-08. There are no direct allegations against the Board. We do not give any permits for mining firms. Yet, notices have been issued as there are references to KSPCB in the mining report”.

S M Puttabuddhi, member secretary of KSPCB, said the Board could not take action against anyone, even if one is guilty, unless their version is heard after issuing notice.

“Till 1994, the Board had no role to play when it came to mining. We monitor only air and water quality. Our role is very limited. For example, when a blast takes place in a mining area, air gets highly polluted for about 30 minutes. Even noise pollution is higher. But later, everything will be normal,” he said.

Sadashivaiah said hundreds of trucks carrying ore pass through the roads. “If a stretch is polluted, then how can we hold one mine lease holder or a firm responsible for air pollution, when hundreds of trucks of various lease holders pass through it?”

The chairman said the Board was planning to make it mandatory for mining firms to instal air quality monitoring equipment.  “The board would also like to intensify its monitoring system. Equipment to conduct online monitoring of air quality in Hospet, Bellary and Sandur, where sponge iron units are located, will be installed soon,” he said.

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Published 04 October 2011, 17:42 IST

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