Agency for mining ban within 500-metre of Sandur temple

The ancient Kumaraswamy Temple at Swami Malai forest in Sandur, Ballari district. DH File Photo

The National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM) has submitted a report to the Mines and Geology department and the Archaeological Survey of India, stating that the mining within the 500-metre radius of Kumaraswamy Temple in Swami Malai forest will have an adverse impact on the monuments and biodiversity of Sandur region.

NIRM, the central agency for research in applied and basic rock mechanics, had carried out a study on the impact of mining on flora and fauna and the ancient temple in Sandur.

The central agency had submitted its report last April itself.
The locals, under the banner of Jan Sangram Parishat, had severely opposed when JSW and MSPL won the bid for C category mines at HT and Karthikeyan mining areas near the temple in e-auctions.

The locals had launched a campaign demanding the government not to allow any form of mining within the 2-km radius of the temple as the area houses several rare species of flora and fauna. On Dec 11, 2017, a bandh was observed in Sandur in this regard.

The NIRM had carried out an impact study in last August and September. The agency had submitted its report to the competent authorities in April. Three months on, the authorities have not acted upon the recommendations made by the NIRM team.

NIRM director Dr H S Venkatesh has clearly mentioned in the report “Mining activities carried out, even without blasting, in the vicinity of Kumaraswamy Temple will adversely impact the biodiversity of the region.”

The previous Congress government, two years back, made modifications to The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958/1978, to allow mining activity beyond the 300-metre radius of the temple.

The aforementioned Acts had banned mining activity within a 2-km radius of the protected monuments.

The JSP activists have sought the government to issue permission for mining activities as per the 1978 Act to avoid any further damage to the temple and the biodiversity of Swami Malai forest.

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