Study team calls for curbs on mining

Ensure lease holders in Karnataka do not flout rules, report tells government

 To prevent further destruction of environment due to rampant illegal mining in Karnataka, a high-level study team has suggested that to ensure lease holders do not flout rules, the government should constituted an expert committee to monitor mining areas.

The expert committee from the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its report Reclamation and Rehabilitation of Mines submitted to the Supreme Court suggested that all the mining leases should be monitored regularly to ensure lease holders adherers to environment norms.

The report, which was also given to the Karnataka government, was prepared after studying Sankalapuram Mines in the Hospet taluk of Bellary district. Though the R&R study was conducted in only one mining area, the report was applicable to all the iron ore mines in Karnataka.

Hearing

The R&R report was prepared on the behest of the apex court which is hearing the cases pertaining to illegal mining in Karnataka. The panel, in its report, said monitoring of mining sites by authorities concerned  will ensure that remediation measures, including earthworks, water treatment, drainage systems, proposed plantations, green belt and others, function as intended.

Besides, the report also recommended that site surveillance was necessary to demonstrate that the mine site remained safe and posed no environmental or health risks by frequent checking of surface water and groundwater to ensure that there will be no pollutant discharge into the surrounding environment.

It said monitoring will provides valuable reference data for authorities in subsequent decision-making and in refining environmental permitting procedures or land use planning.

Team composition

The monitoring body should comprising representatives from the government as well as local communities and other interested parties.

Apart from them, the body should also comprise scientific expertise as it would need to be conducted using transparent and scientifically rigorous procedures, the report said. To ensure that R&R report should be implemented properly, the panel suggested to upgrade the skills of both mine owners and managers to ensure they take up proper afforestation, construction of green belts, bio-diversity management plan and other key issues.

The panel said as most of the corporate social responsibility activities implemented by the mining companies had failed to reach the targeted section, such things should be the part of an integrated programme of effective planning and management through all phases of mine development and operations.

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