Post mining havoc, Karnataka preparing plan to preserve ecology

The Supreme Court had asked the state government to file an affidavit spelling out "future course of action" vis-a-vis "rejuvenating the environmental aspects which had deteriorated during mining activity", he said.

Speaking after inaugurating the 53rd annual general meeting of the Karnataka Planters' Association (KPA) and later talking to reporters, he said "So, we are having a plan with us" and the first round of discussions had already been held in this context.
Two or three more rounds of discussions were in the pipeline before submitting the affidavit to Supreme Court, expected in a fortnight.

Asked if the lease of those involved in illegal mining -- in the backdrop of Supreme Court and SC-appointed Central Empowered Committee observations -- would be cancelled, the Chief Minister said "it's not yet finalised", adding, only after the "final report of CEC and SC" that he would be able to comment on the issue.

Stating that the government was giving a thrust to promote ecological balance, he indicated that eco-friendly coffee plantations -- Karnataka accounts for about 70 per cent of the coffee production in India -- and bio-diversity rich Western Ghats in the State would find mention in the affidavit as the State readies to defend its commitment to stem environmental degradation.

KPA stressed the contribution of plantations in maintaining ecological harmony.
"There is a need to initiate a comprehensive study to record the benefits of the maintenance of shade trees and preservation of water bodies in the plantations and see that they are rewarded similar to the carbon trading benefits accruing to certain industries", KPA Chairman Sahadev Balakrishna said.

He urged the state government to exempt partnership firms from payment of agriculture income tax as most of them consist of family members who have formed them for better and convenient management.

"There has been a severe shortage of potash (MOP) and complex fertilisers", he said. "With the introduction of the nutrient based subsidy, the high cost and unavailability of fertilisers will still remain a burning issue".

KPA also said the rate of VAT charged on agriculture inputs like chemicals and fertilisers is five per cent and for agriculture nutrients its is 13.5 per cent in Karnataka, and sought their exemption.

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