Karnataka govt opposes mining in Western Ghats

Clear danger posed to unique ecology

Saying that the bio–diversity, flora and fauna of the Western Ghats will be under threat if mining is allowed there, the Karnataka government has voiced its opposition over the recommendations to allow iron ore mining in the eco–sensitive region.

In its affidavit before the Supreme Court in the illegal mining case, the state government has said that underground mining in the region would pose a clear danger to its unique ecology.

“As the region is being considered for World Heritage status, underground mining adopting latest and advanced technology may not be a viable proposition for the present”, it had said in the affidavit.

It has also conveyed a similar view to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), noting that allowing mining or hydal power projects on the Ghats would destabilize greenery in the state.

Earlier, the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an autonomous institution under the MOEF, had recommended in its report for underground mining in Western Ghats to extract the large scale deposits Magnetite iron ore.  

The institution also suggested deployment of modern technology used in Australia and Europe for the purpose.

A high level committee headed by secretary for steel P K Mishra had also recommended for removal of iron ore from the Western Ghats to meet the demand for ore amongst domestic steel producers.

Since 10 billion tonnes of Magnetite or natural iron ore (with greater than 60 per cent iron content) is found in the Ghats, the panel felt it could be explored to meet the demand of the steel makers. Around 8 billion tonnes of this ore deposit is expected to be found in Ghats falls in Karnataka alone.

Despite strong opposition from the environmentalists, the mining lobby has been demanding excavation in the Western Ghats to compensate for the shutting down of activities in Bellary .

India produced about 208 million tonne of iron ore in 2010-11; half of the quality ore was exported. In 2011-12, it will require 115 mt of iron ore for the projected production of 73.7 mt of steel.  In next five years, around 206 mt of ore is required to produce the projected 125.9 mt of steel.

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