Mining woes: Road accidents in Bellary district on the rise

Mining woes: Road accidents in Bellary district on the rise

Life of local residents made unbearable, says report

According to environmental impact assessment report prepared by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an autonomus body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the increasing vehicle population and deteriorating road conditions had a direct consequence in terms of soaring road mishaps.

The report was prepared at the behest of the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions on the illegal mining in the district.

The number of fatal accidents, involving mining vehicles, jumped steeply in 2004 (275 people died in road mishaps) and remained consistently high in the subsequent years, till the peak mining activity years up to 2010 (370 persons killed).

Besides loss of life, road infrastructure crumbled due to excessive movement of overloaded mining vehicles. Though the state government increased its spending on roads from Rs 7.07 crore in 2005 to Rs 50.70 crore in 2010 in the three mining rich taluks - Bellary, Hospet and Sandur - road conditions remained non-motorable due to the movement of overladen trucks.

Major concern
The noise from ore transportation was a major concern, particularly in villages situated along the state highway.

“Residents of these villages are fully exposed to and highly affected by the transportation noise,” the report said while highlighting the severity of damage due to mining.

Owing to the pathetic condition of roads, traffic slows down leading to congestion and frequent use of horns, creating chaos in the acoustic environment and making life unbearable for the local residents, said the report.

To minimise the adverse impact on the inhabitants along the roadsides, which are being used by the transport agencies, the state government should explore the possibility of diverting this traffic by constructing a by-pass road.

While exploring alternative railway routes to transport ore, local authorities should take action to increase roadside plantation to prevent further pollution. The report recommended curbing overloading of trucks, metalling of all major roads, sprinkling water and regularly cleaning roads to check dust emanating from these roads.