Greens see red over KIOCL tourism plans

Environmentalists are up in arms over Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited’s (KIOCL) plans to throw open its closed mining areas and residential quarters to tourism. The company has invited expression of interest for the proposal on its website dated  April 7, 2014.


KIOCL, which, following a Supreme Court ban on mining around Kudremukh National Park, was expected to return the land to State government after expiry of lease agreement, has not done so and proposes to utilise the same for tourism activities, according to forest, ecology and environment department sources.

The company’s plans in this regard have been stalled by many chief wildlife wardens and government secretaries in the past.

Wildlife First Managing Trustee Praveen Bhargav, has written to Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee; Forest, Ecology and Environment Additional Chief Secretary Madan Gopal, Principal Revenue Secretary Basavaraju, Chief Wildlife Warden Vinay Lutra and Chikmagalur Deputy Commissioner B S Shekharappa; objecting to KIOCL’s plans.
 
According to Bhargav, “It is a matter of concern as KIOCL is attempting to create rights over government land. As per Supreme Court orders, the area spread across 3203.55 hectares (mining area) and residential areas cannot be used for any purpose.

The Kasturirangan Report, which has been accepted by the government, also says no tourism or development activities can take place within 50 hectares. But the proposed areas fall in the middle of the national park. Supreme Court had also directed CEC to submit a report of banned area in September, 2013. But no report has been submitted and government has not acquired the land back.”

Chief Secretary Mukherjee said unless a credible proposal comes to us, we cannot say anything. KIOCL is a mining company with no tourism experience. The land which is being spoken about belongs to government and will be acquired.”

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