Wildlife Board leaves it to CM to decide on Kappatagudda status

Most members for retaining conservation reserve tag of forest

Wildlife Board leaves it to CM to decide on Kappatagudda status

The State Wildlife Board on Monday authorised Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to take an appropriate decision on the demand for restoring the conservation reserve status to the Kappatagudda forest area in Gadag district.

The chief minister will take an appropriate decision based on the opinion of people near the forest. A report on the public hearing conducted the deputy commissioner of Gadag district was submitted at the board meeting, Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment Ramanath Rai told reporters after attending the special meeting of the board chaired by Siddaramaiah.

Sources in the board said all members suggested that Kappatagudda should remain a conservation reserve in the interest of protecting the rich flora and fauna in the forest.
The chief minister is the chairman of the board. As many as 221 of the 247 people who attended the public hearing on January 16 last year had favoured restoration of the conservation reserve status.

The government, last November, withdrew a notification dated December 19, 2015 that had declared Kappatagudda forest spread over 80,000 acres as a conservation reserve, resulting in a major controversy.

Opposition parties, environmentalists and a section of local people are up in arms against the government. Ramgad Minerals and Mining Company Ltd had obtained a prospective licence to mine gold in 39.7 hectares of forest area in 2008.

The sources said the chief minister will take a decision based no the legal status of the mining lease and directed the Forest Department to furnish all information in this regard. The company cannot carry out mining activities if the conservation reserve status is restored, the sources added.

CM upset
The sources said Siddaramaiah took the Forest Department officials to task when they failed to answer how the company managed to obtain the mining licence. The officials did not even know the duration of mining lease. “Who are the officers involved in clearing the files?...I want all the details. Action will be taken against the guilty officials even if they are retired,” the sources quoted the chief minister as saying at the meeting.

Ramanath Rai said there is no mining activity at Kappatagudda currently.

“Our government has not granted any permission to anybody. Though the licence was issued in 2008, it has become a controversy only now. This government has been taking measures to protect the forest area. The issue has been discussed in detail at the special meeting of the board,” he added.

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