Fast-track mining nod may speed forest demise

Fast-track mining nod may speed forest demise

Areas to be exploited are in Bandipur Tiger reserve

Fast-track mining nod may speed forest demise

In what could have a profound long-term impact on the State’s fragile eco-system and endanger the tiger population, the Cabinet has approved large scale mining not only in the reserved forest in Bellary, but also in the Bolegoudankatte forest under the Bandipur Tiger reserve and Jedikatte reserve forest in the Western Ghats region.

Apparently not considering or assessing the pros and cons, including the social and environmental costs of unchecked mining, the State government found it prudent to steamroller  its decision, throwing even the Karnataka Lokayukta recommendations to the winds.

The cabinet threw open nearly 5,000 sq km of mineral rich, reserved forest area in Bellary (four blocks), Shimoga (one block) and Mysore (one block) for private sector mining. A majority of mining firms operating in the State have set their eyes on mainly four blocks in Bellary, which contains very high value iron ore.

The private companies’ lust for minerals can be gauged by the 3,000 applications pending before the government, each seeking leases in these blocks, government sources said.
The government, of course, is more than willing to oblige. It is planning to allot captive mines to ArcelorMittal and Posco in Bellary for them to set up steel plants. The government has not done its homework, especially because of the history of how the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) lost a bitter battle to environmentalists on mining in Kudremukh in Chikmagalur in the Supreme Court.

Sensing that the KIOCL’s project would cause long-term environmental damage, the apex court had ruled that all mining activities in the rich biodiversity area of Kudremkukh should come to a halt with effect from 2005.

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