CEC unearths truths on mining in Tumkur, C'durga

Large-scale harm to environment, agriculture fields alleged

open secrets: The hillock that has been tunnelled into by the K K Kaval mining firm near Kanchipura. DH PhotoMining activities had come to a standstill as the companies had prior information on the visit of the CEC team.

Though the CEC was scheduled to visit Tumkur district, it conducted inspections in these mining areas till afternoon. In the morning, the team travelled through Hiriyur and visited the mining areas at K K Kaval near Kanchipura.

Later, it inspected the mining areas near Doddabyaladakere for which Garudadri Minerals, Morris Minerals, Ravi Minerals and Raja Khan Minerals have obtained leases.  
Farmers in the vicinity of the mining areas have been complaining that the mining activities have adversely affected farming activities in their fields. They have appealed to the mine owners many times for compensation, but to no avail.

Also, there are allegations that the mine owners are offering inducements to a few people in the villages to get them on their side.

There are serious charges against firms that have obtained mining leases in the taluk that they have been conducting illegal mining beyond their lease boundaries.

Locals say that officials of the department concerned look the other way to these violations and hence, such activities go on unabated.

The CEC team found during its visit that environment protection had been neglected by the mining firms.

It was apparent that the companies had planted saplings and put up information boards overnight in efforts to cover up their acts of omission. The CEC members expressed their disappointment as K K Kaval mining firm near Kanchipura had tunnelled into a hillock to make way for vehicles transporting material. They said such a thing had never occurred elsewhere.

The team then visited the mining areas of Milan Minerals near Kenkere in Chikkanayakanahalli taluk of Tumkur district. The mining areas fall in the Kudurekanive forest area coming under the forest zone of Hosadurga taluk.

CEC chairman P V Jayakrishnan, member Mahendra Vyas, Conservator of Forests U V Singh, Deputy Commissioner Vipul Bansal, additional Superintendent of Police Shivarama Reddy, Deputy Director of the Mines and Geology department H R Srinivas were present.

In Tumkur district

The CEC team later arrived in Tumkur district. Officials led by Deputy Commissioner C Somashekhar received the team at Kenkere in Chikkanayakanahalli taluk.

After lunch at Chikkanayakanahalli, the team went on an inspection of the mining areas. Efforts by environmentalists and anti-mining activists to meet the team were scuttled by the police.

The team visited the mining areas of Sudarshan Mining Company. S R Hiremath of Dharwad-based Samaja Parivartana Samudaya, who had filed a plea on illegal mining in the Supreme Court, was part of the team.

They visited mining areas of Latha Minings, Balaji Producing Company, Ganapati Singh Company, Karnataka Mining Limited and Kamalabai Company in Abbigehalla limits.

The members also inspected Upendra Mining in Soppinagudda, about which there are more allegations of forest encroachment, Tumkur Minerals and Teja Mining Company in the ‘Red Hill’ area.

The team could spend only five to 10 minutes at each place. It inspected the documents and got doubts clarified. The CEC is scheduled to visit mining areas in Gubbi and Tiptur taluks on Wednesday.

Officials, firms face the music

The CEC team is said to have taken mine owners to task at Abbigudda of Chikkanayakanahalli taluk for illegal mining. The team felt that illegal mining was rampant in Tumkur district as the ore found in the district is of a superior quality than that found in the mines of Bellary and Chitradurga districts.

Instances of ore being transported illegally, besides boundary pillars being removed for illegal mining in forest areas were found during inspection by the team. It was found that there was large-scale damage to the environment due to the mining activities. The team took government officials as also officials of the firms for mining additional ore by taking permission to mine in revenue land.

Since the illegalities are serious in nature, the CEC may submit a report to the Supreme Court at the earliest, sources said.

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