‘Gold rush’ may force Kappatagudda shed sanctuary tag

The lush green Kappatagudda Hills in Gadag district has rich reserves of iron ore and gold. DH File Photo

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is one signature away from courting another controversy as there is a proposal before him seeking the removal of the wildlife sanctuary status to the Kappatagudda hills to pave way for gold mining there.

Yediyurappa is slated to chair the meeting of the state wildlife board Thursday where this is likely to come up.

A total of 17,872 hectares of land within Kappatagudda reserve forest in Shirahatti taluk of Gadag district was declared as a conservation reserve in 2017, following which it was notified as a wildlife sanctuary. This was challenged by a mining company in the division bench of High Court in June, this year.

According to sources, mining companies were lobbying with state government officials to secure permission for mining in the forests despite opposition from environmental groups and religious organisations.

“The companies are forcing the government’s hand by using the locals to file complaints against the Forest Department,” sources said.

Withdrawing wildlife sanctuary status may facilitate mining in the forest area, vindicating the attempts of companies trying to extract gold at Kappatagudda.

“There is a lot of pressure from mining companies to denotify the wildlife sanctuary status of Kappatagudda and the file is in front of the CM. Getting clearance at the state-level would ease the process of securing the required clearances from the Centre,” sources said.

Meanwhile, Shivakumar Swamiji of Nandiveri Mutt - who has protested against mining in the reserve in the past - has threatened to stage demonstrations to save one of the largest green pockets in north Karnataka. 

It can be recalled that Baldota-owned Ramgad Minerals and Mining Ltd had conducted a survey on mineral deposits in the Hill almost two decades ago.

In 2017, Forest Department had refused to issue a no-objection certificate for gold mining in Kappatagudda, the biodiversity hot spot is also known as the Sahyadri of north Karnataka.

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