Sharing an article about Kudremukh from Times of India.
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