Activists protest mining activities in Sandur

Ballari: Environmentalists and activists are gearing up for a large-scale movement to stop mining activities in Sandur, despite recent interventions by the state government.

Last week, Union Minister for Steel and Heavy Industries HD Kumaraswamy approved the commencement of mining by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) in Devadari, Sandur taluk. However, Forest and Ecology Minister of Karnataka Eshwar Khandre instructed officials to withhold the land transfer due to complaints about KIOCL's non-compliance with the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) directives.

While this move provides temporary relief, many activists believe it is not enough. They are organizing a massive campaign in August to demand a permanent halt to mining in the region.

Sreeshaila Aladhalli, Vice President of the Samaj Parivartana Samudaya warned that mining remains a significant threat to the region's rich biodiversity and thick forest cover.

“This (Eshwar Khandre's directive) is a temporary relief for us. However, mining is definitely a threat to the region. The government should not allow mining. It is a rich biodiversity area with a thick forest. Neela Kuriji also grows in the region,” Sreeshaila Aladhalli told Deccan Chronicle.

He said that a massive movement is being planned for August, uniting various organizations and activists to send a strong message to the government. Senior activist SR Hiremath and others who have voiced against mining in the past are expected to participate in the campaign.

The Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) party, which staged a protest in Ballari on Monday, has also called for a united front against the mining operations.

SUCI(C) district committee member A Devadas highlighted the detrimental effects of mining, citing previous violations by KIOCL in the Kudremukh area.

“The mining will neither benefit the people nor the government. It would also cause immense damage to the people, agriculture, and ecology. We have seen how KIOCL worked in the Kudremukh area. Therefore, the government should not allow mining here,” Devadas said.

Devadas further questioned the government’s decision to permit KIOCL to mine 470 hectares in Devadari Betta, which would necessitate the felling of over 99,000 trees. He urged the government to consider the forest department’s earlier recommendations against new mining in Devadari Gudda-Swamimalai areas.

“We will shortly contact all the like-minded people and fight against this mining,” he added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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