Mining has left Bellary poorer

Mining has left Bellary poorer

Forests razed, land turned uncultivable and peoples health placed at grave risk

The three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia had sought to know from the mining industry how it proposes to restore forest that was destroyed by mining.

In the district which has seen an exponential escalation in iron ore mining in the light of the rise of steel prices internationally, the authorities have been oblivious to blatant violations of rules on environment pollution by the firms over the last few decades.

Mine dust has turned green pasture barren near mining areas in Sandur and Hospet taluks of the district over the past 10 years.

Cultivable lands have become infertile and jobless farmers are dependent on a pittance offered by the mining companies as compensation.

The pollution of air, water and environment has continued unabated, affecting flora and fauna adversely in the region, thanks to apathy of the agencies entrusted with the task of ensuring that the mining firms abide by the rules to protect environment.

Not bothered

But, the State Department of Environment and Zoology, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State Pollution Control Board have not bothered to inspect the region to assess the damage caused by the mining to the ecology of the region.

Residents in the villages near the mining regions claim that the authorities are in cahoot with the offenders.

The number of people suffering from asthma and other diseases has increased alarmingly due to mine dust pervading the air.

The mine dust has killed foliage, affecting the ambient air quality. Those residing near the highway travelled by the mine lorries, too have become victims of the health hazards caused due to the mine dust as no precaution has been taken to cover the load of ore carried by the lorries in violation of rules.

The firms don’t even use the equipment to check the large quantity of dust emanating while mining, as it involves expenditure on electricity.

Agricultural land in Haraginadoni, Veniveerapur, Belagal, Halakundi, Honnalli, Sanganakallu, Kudutini, Meenalli of Bellary, Dhanayakanakere of Hospet and several villages in Sandur taluk have become uncultivable as mine dust has settled on the soil.

The problems faced by the local residents are ignored by the authorities who are required to hold the Gram Sabhas to elicit public opinion before issuing environment clearances and licences to the mining units, village residents say.

Permitted quantity

Oversight agencies do not inspect mining areas regularly to ensure that firms do not mine beyond the permitted quantity of ore.

The Supreme Court Empowered Committee, Lokayukta officials, officers of various departments, surveyors and a team of experts have begun inspection of encroachment of forest land by the mining firms.

But a committee needs to be set up to assess even the ecological damage, says Veerappa, a resident of Haraginadoni.

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