'Defence projects affecting blanket production in Challakere'

 Production of the popular Challakere blankets, which are used by defence personnel to beat the cold in Siachen and the Himalayan terrains, has come down, said Doddallurati Karianna of the Amrit Mahal Kaval Hitarakshana Haagu Horata Samithi on Wednesday.

This is because the locals are unable to take their livestock grazing in the 10,000 acre of grasslands which was diverted a year ago for creating a military-industrial-nuclear complex in the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland of Challakere taluk of Chitradurga district, he said.

Addressing the media here on Wednesday, Karianna said that farmers have not been permitted to take their livestock into the grasslands for grazing in the past year. They have been forced to buy fodder, which has started affecting the health of the livestock. Sheep wool production has come down by 50 to 70 per cent. Various organisations had barricaded the area, defying the orders of the National Green Tribunal.

The tribunal had permitted the organisations to carry on with the project on the condition that the right to water and livelihood access to the Kaval is not disrupted. Free movement of the dwellers of 70 villages in the vicinity to temples and grasslands for livestock grazing should not be hampered. Since the grasslands are home to critically-endangered species like the Great Indian Bustard, Black Buck and Lesser Florican, they should also be protected, the NGT had stated.

Davis George of the Environment Support Group had sought information from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest seeking details of the enviornmental clearances. He had approached the Central Information Commission, which pulled up the ministry for withholding information.

“Despite repeated requests, the State government and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah paid no attention to our problems. Now because of the efforts of the ESG, some parts of the 10,000-acre land will be opened up for livestock grazing. However, recovering losses and restoring production will take some time,” Karianna added.

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