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Thread: Kudremukh

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    Default Kudremukh

    Dear All,
    Sharing an article about Kudremukh from Times of India.

    Kudremukh Controversy
    Nitin Sethi, TNN, Apr 23, 2010, 12.53am IST

    The Supreme Court shut down mining in Kudremukh National Park, Karnataka, after a long-drawn case but that has not stopped the Union government, the state government or the miners from trying to reopen the biodiversity hot spot.

    Kudremukh is the second largest protected area in the tropical wet evergreen-type of forest of the Western Ghats. Spread over 600 square kilometres, it is home to three big carnivores — tiger, leopard and the wild dog. Gaur, sambar, wild pigs, Muntjac and Lion-tailed Macaques also populate the dense forest patch.

    But the steel ministry and mining lobby are keen to reopen mining in the park. Alternatively, proposals to turn the once mined area into a luxury resort or a police training centre are also being floated. This, despite the apex court rejecting even review and curative petitions asking for reopening of the mines.

    With various agencies still hoping to use the land for their pet projects, the mining area has not been restored. On the contrary, five years after the apex court ordered a shut down at Kudremukh, the government continues to spend Rs 60 crore every year to maintain the plant and equipment at the site illegally.

    In 2005, the apex court ordered the closure of mining by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) in 4,505 hectares of the green patch in the park. The order came after environmental groups in Karnataka pursued the matter despite a disinterested State.

    The court made scathing comments against the public sector undertaking, saying, “It has been found that KIOCL has used the concerned period (between its first and final order for closure) to carry on commercial operations without taking necessary steps for winding down operations.”

    The court even accused the company of using dilatory tactics to prevent its closure.

    The court ordered that the mines should be shut, the equipment dismantled, the forest land restored as a national park and the slopes stabilized using the compensation of Rs 19 crore the public sector undertaking had deposited.
    The order came only after the Comptroller and Auditor General had noted that KIOCL had illegally mined 56 hectares of forest land next to the Lakya Dam on Bhadra river which passes through the forest patch. The CAG estimated a loss of Rs 139.15 crore as costs of the environmental damage.

    But with the state government and the mining lobby unrelenting and unwilling to return the forest land to its original status, the environmentalists have got their antennas up.

    The issue was discussed at the last National Board of Wildlife meeting, members told TOI. Sources in the environment ministry confirmed that the steel ministry had approached them to discuss the possibility of reopening the area into a resort, with a golf course to boot.

    When contacted on the issue, Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh said, “The park has already reached its carrying capacity (for non-forestry projects) and we will not allow any unsustainable activity in the tiger-bearing national park.”

    But the Union steel ministry has not given up hope as yet and neither has KIOCL. Sources say that the company is scouting for an environmental group, which it could fund, to study if mining can be started in the park yet again, this time claiming it would use new and cleaner techniques.

    The source article can be found here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/h...ow/5846362.cms
    Mrudul Godbole

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    This is a very disturbing news.

    The entire forest will be devastated if the mining is reopened and equally disastrous will be the mindset of activists who strove to bring the mining to a halt. They will be a severe state of despair.

    If this disaster is to happen, am sure that the people working towards conservation will loose confidence and enthusiasm and there will be a huge drop out for it is becomes obvious that nothing could stop our country from digging its own grave.

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    Default Return of the WILD

    KUDREMUKH: Until five years ago, the grinding roar of gigantic mining machines filled the grasslands of Kudremukh. Now, often in the night, one can hear the tigers calling after they have made a kill, say tribals who live within the Kudremukh National Park.

    Undergrowth is slowly covering the rusting machines of the Kudremukh Iron Ore Corporation (KIOCL) and conservationists say there are dramatic changes since the controversial mining project was stopped. This January, forest officials sighted two tigers during census operations and they say the population has "improved" greatly over the past couple of years. But with the good news comes the need to step up protection in an area that is still bustling with KIOCL employees and their township within national park limits.

    “I have been going to Kudremukh since the mid-80s when we could hardly see any large mammals. Now one sees several gaur and sambar in the national park, meaning an increase in prey base. Stopping of mining is one of the important reasons for rebounding of wildlife density,” says Sanjay Gubbi of Wildlife Conservation Society - India Program. “On an educated guess, currently, we might have about 15 tigers in Kudremukh and it has the potential for more. When one compares this to similar tiger habitats in other countries such as Hukaung Valley in Myanmar, Thailand's Huai Khai Khaeng-Thung Yai, Nam Et-Phou Louey in Lao PDR, Endau Rompin in Malaysia or the eastern plains of Cambodia, Kudremukh should be doing a lot better,” he says.

    “We can spot a good number of ungulates now so there is an upward trend in tiger evidence,” says principal chief conservator of forests B K Singh. “Tigers might always have been there but now we have started seeing clear evidence. It could be because mining has stopped or because of uninterrupted grasslands. Kudremukh will be proposed for being brought under Project Tiger after Biligiri Rangana temple (BRT) sanctuary,” he adds.

    V K Bomme Gowda, a Girijan tribal from Mensinahadya, a hotbed of Naxal encounters in Karnataka, points to a cliff where the “hulis” (tigers) roam. “I haven’t seen them but often, they kill our cattle and we hear their call. They are there in Kudremukh as well,” he says.

    The number of carnivores has gone up in Chikmaglur and Kudremukh national park, Gowda says, but he hardly understands the significance of having tigers around. His concern is about the tribals who are arrested on suspicion of links with Naxalites. “There are a lot of Girijan clans here in Chikmagalur. Though the police have been visiting our villages in the forests regularly since the two Naxal encounters in 2005 and 2009, we don’t want to leave the place. We belong to the forests, I hope the forest department doesn’t evict us from here,” he sighs.

    The forest department, however, has begun relocating families that are willing to move. Twelve families have been relocated at a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each. NGOs have helped relocate around 25 families of farmers while another 600 applications for relocation are pending with the revenue department.

    More than 300 KIOCL employees continue to live in the park with their families. So even though the impact of mining is wearing out, there is continuous human movement in the park limits. The state government has approved Rs 2.5 crore to shift 25-30 families from the core area this year. Once the buffer zones are identified, the core critical wildlife habitat will be declared inviolate, says Singh.

    Taken from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/h...ow/6009409.cms
    Bibhav Behera

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