Panel to probe illegal mining in Ramanagara district: Minister

The State government has constituted a committee to look into illegal mining activities in Ramanagara district, Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara said on Tuesday.

Anil Kumble, vice chairperson of State Wildlife Board and Minister C P Yogeeshwara release the poster on forest fires in Bangalore on Monday. DH photo After releasing the posters on forest fires at the Vidhana Soudha, Yogeeshwara told reporters that the committee, chaired by Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, comprised members from the Mines, Revenue, Commercial Tax and Forests departments.

He has also constituted a departmental committee headed by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dipak Sharma. He said DCF Takhat Singh Ranawat has been appointed, specifically to look into illegal mining activities in Ramanagara.

“The report will be ready in 15 days. The aim is to ensure that there are no illegal mining activities in the district,” he said.

The committees have been constitued following Yogeeshwara’s accusations of illegal granite quarrying by Congress leader D K Shivakumar and his brother.

Cattle-grazing racket

Yogeeshwara said the Forest department had taken up a drive to check cattle grazing in the core forest areas in Kollegal and MM Hills of Chamarajanagar district.

He said cattle owners deliberately allowed the cattle to graze in the forests.

“The practice has prevailed for several years and the owners poison the wild animals to keep them off from harming the cattle. Hundreds of cattle, which are left to graze in the forests for several months, are later transported to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where they are sold for a huge profit. The continued grazing has affected the growth of vegetation in the forests,” the minister said.

The additional chief secretary, Forests, Kaushik Mukherjee, said the department had operationalised the satellite mapping system, which would give the exact location of a forest fire. He said there was no additional expenditure on the technology that was developed in-house.

“The information will stream in live, and the minute there is information of a fire, the servers send out SMS alerts to range officials, who will rush to the spot and douse the fires,” he said.

Posters defeat purpose!

According to Additional Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, the Forest department has devised the satellite imagery technology to detect forest fires “without spending a penny”. But, the posters on forest fires has cost the State Board for Wildlife around Rs 1.2 lakh.

The poster has a cheering Anil Kumble, the vice chairperson of the Board, making an appeal to the public: “Together let’s bowl out forest fires. If you see fire, call or inform the nearest forest office”.

The ‘catch’, however, is that Kumble has conveniently forgotten to mention a toll free number to go with the message – in a way defeating the purpose of the campaign.
After mediapersons highlighted the aspect, the cricketer read out the numbers – 8088053555/08023467919.

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