The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered an FIR against H Ramalingaiah, Deputy Director of Mines and Geology Department, Ramanagara for allowing stone quarrying within the buffer zone of the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP).
The complaint was filed by a social activist Dinesh Kallahalli in May 2016 against Ramalingaiah and others, including the then Deputy Commissioner of Ramanagara and a senior IFS officer, alleging that the approval of the lease, by the Mines and Geology Department and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), was obtained by concealing that the lease area falls within the buffer zone of the BNP.
The lease in question is in favour of HA Sardar Ahmed and the land is situated at survey number 205/2 at Herandapanahalli village (also called as Erandapanahalli) in Kanakapura taluk.
In January 2015, the Department had approved the quarrying plan. The preliminary inquiry revealed that an office superintendent had made a note asking the Forest Department to respond since the area was close to the national park. However, the deputy director overruled the noting and passed the approval order.
Subsequently, in December 2015, State Expert Appraisal Committee recommended the environmental clearance and SEIAA granted it in January 2016.
"After the Supreme Court's 2006 order, state governments had to ensure strict implementation of safe zones and buffer zones around all national parks and sanctuaries. As per this, environmental clearance had to be obtained from SEIAA. However, when the application was heard, even the SEIAA had not sought an opinion from the Forest Department. I have been filing complaints to the Forest Department since 2015 about illegal stone quarrying activities within the buffer zone of the park and the Forest Department had also found it to be true,’’ Dinesh Kallahalli said.
Sources said competent authority in the state government has accorded sanction to register the FIR against the Deputy Director in the case. Further investigation will reveal the role played by other officials, an official said.