Last Update: Fri, April 16, 2010 @ 09:10 hrs Indian Std. Time
Tigers pushed out for mines in Karnataka - Mail Today Sun, Feb 28
K'taka:Tigers pushed out for mines Mail Today Sun, Feb 28, 2010
Minelords or Tigers or Money ? | Siasat Photo M.A. Sriram - The Hindu
Here's one more reason why tigers are fast disappearing from India - minelords with limitless greed for leases and a state government that accedes to their demands.
Unmindful of the declining number of India's national animal and one of the world's severely endangered species, the Bellary mining cartel in Karnataka has been given the green signal by the state government to enter tiger habitats and exploit the mineralrich land for lucrative exports.
Last week, the B. S. Yeddyurappa-led government discreetly dereserved approximately 5,000 sq km of forest land in 13 districts without making any official announcement. This land consists of around 302 sq km of core forest area, including tiger habitats, in three districts - Mysore, Bellary and Shimoga. The minelords - one of whom, G. Janardhana Reddy, is ironically the state minister for tourism - have been effectively given permission for mining iron ore, chromite, black granite, manganese and kyanite in the dereserved areas.
The cabinet note regarding this decision states that the 302 sq km of dereserved core forests is a "bushy area" and "will be thrown open for mining of important mineral resources. The mining of such mineral resources will propel the economic growth of the state and provide employment to thousands of jobless people." This is seemingly untrue. The 302 sq km of dereserved area is, according to the state forests department, a core tiger habitat.
Karnataka is home to 20 per cent of the nation's tiger population. There are an estimated 290 tigers in the state's forests with nearly 100 of them in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
It appears that the government has specifically dereserved this forests area for mining due to the presence of rich mineral deposits.
In Mysore, the government has dereserved Bolegowdanakatte Reserve Forest (30 sq km), which is part of Naganapura Reserve Forest and had been recently added to the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
These dereserved forests adjoin the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and are part of the Ecologically Sensitive Area ( ESA) around the protected area ( 10 km from the boundary). The decision to dereserve the forests also violates Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
A forest official said: "The mining site in Bolegowdanakatte Reserve Forest is close to the location where a tiger was found dead outside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve last week." In Shimoga, the Jedikatte Reserve Forest ( 6.6 sq km) close to the Bhadra Tiger Reserve has been dereserved. This again violates the ESA regulation threatening the tiger population.
Wildlife conservationists are shocked. "Bandipur Tiger Reserve is one of the last strongholds of tigers in the country and Bhadra Tiger Reserve has great potential to achieve higher tiger population density," said Sanjay Gubbi, assistant director ( Conservation and Policy), Wildlife Conservation Society of India ( WCSI). "Hence, the reserved areas in these forests need to be protected against developmental activities."
In Bellary, four reserve forest areas, where the endangered sloth bear is found, have been opened up for iron ore mining. These four blocks contain rich deposits of high - grade iron ore that can fetch up to $ 125 ( Rs 5,750) per tonne in the international market.
As many as 3,000 applications for mining lease grants are pending before the state government, including those of the Bellary Reddy brothers.
Iron ore leases are the most popular followed by manganese.
Several politicians in Karnataka, including those from the ruling BJP, are owners of big mining companies. For instance, the Bellary Reddy brothers manage the Obalapuram Mining Company or OMC.
Wildlife conservationists feel the government's decisions are influenced by the mining barons. They may have reason to believe so. Apart from the Reddy brothers, other minelords in the government and the assembly include legislators Anand Singh ( S. B. Minerals), Nagendra, Babu and former deputy mayor Puttaraju.
Former Congress ministers A. Veerabhadrappa, D. K. Shivakumar, Diwakar Babu, M. Y. Ghorpade and H. R. Gaviyappa, MP Anil Lad and MLA Santosh Lad are part of the mining industry in the state. Balakrishne Gowda and Ashwath hail from the same party - Janata Dal ( S), headed by former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda.
The government defended the move to dereserve core forests.
"There's nothing illegal," Karnataka home minister V. S. Acharya said. "Opening up mining will provide employment to the rural masses."
The conservationists will take the matter to court as they say it violates a Supreme Court order banning mining inside forest areas.
MP against mining in reserve forests - Mysore - City - The Times Times of India Mar 01, 2010, 10.53pm IST
The mining area is located in the vicinity of heavily forested area is the habitat for the tigers and elephants.
The Congress MP Vishwanath wondered as to how the permission to mine in the forested area is accorded when the world leaders are discussing global warming. This could be because of reasons which are out of his control, he said indicating mining mafia.
Move to allow mining in reserve forests near Bandipur opposed The Hindu, Tuesday, Mar 02, 2010
Decision betrays lack of concern for law
The State Government's decision to allow mining in the Bolegowdanakatte reserve forest near Bandipur in Mysore district betrayed a lack of concern for the law and will have will have serious ramifications.
The proposed mining area was very close to the Bandipur National Park which was a tiger reserve and that the decision came at a time when the Karnataka High Court upheld the ban on movement of night-time traffic through the reserve. When this is the situation, people of the region are unable to understand the decision of the State Government.
Wild animals in the region and rich forests would be the first casualty of allowing mining.
The proposed mining area was near Bandipur, Nagarahole and BRT Hill, and that two important rivers which may get polluted.
How mining nea Bandipur can harm wildlife - Mysore - City Times of India Mar 06, 2010, 10.48pm
Sighting of wild elephants and tigers no longer amuses or scares villagers as they are regular visitors to their place. A child in the group proudly says: "Saar idenu, naanu huli nodidini (This is nothing. I've seen a tiger from close quarters)".
But all this seems to end soon as the village surroundings on the border of Mysore and Chamarajnagar districts could change forever if the BJP government allows mining in Bolegowdanakatte, 3 km from Srikantapura in the forested area. There is a widespread opposition to the government's move.
Mahesh, a youth asks: "So what next? Will the village be relocated?"
Villagers say the forest area called Omkara Block was a hunting ground of Mysore Maharajas before it was denuded. Now, eucalyptus is grown for miles and there are water bodies like Bolegowdanakatte which quench the thirst of wild animals throughout the year. The village elders say the forested area was cut over the years before the forest department moved in and clamped restrictions. "Wild animals often destroy our crops. That is okay. But we will not allow looting of the forest area," says Prakash from Harikati next to Srikantapura in Gundulpet taluk.
During a recent tiger census, three tigers were sighted in the vicinity. Some three years ago, it is adjudged as a tiger reserve.
State govt urged to revoke mining order at B Katte Deccan Herald
Revoke decision in the Cabinet, urge NGOs Deccan Herald
Mysore MP Vishwanath termed CM's reply to the poser of Gundlupet MLA H S Mahadevaprasad in the Session on mining issue as a 'tricky answer' that lacks clarity and commitment. The CM had replied that he had not given permission for mining at 11 square kms (coming under Gundlupet constituency) of the total 32 square kms of land allowed for mining at Bolegowdanakatte.
The activists came down heavily on the announcement of the Chief Minister that he had not given permission for mining at Bolegowdanakatte even as the government had announced that mining would be permitted in some areas including Bolegowdanakatte.
Strong opposition to mining in Mysore The Hindu Tue, Mar 16, 2010
Campaign planned in Chamarajanagar and Mysore districts
March 30 deadline set for Government to clear the air
We will not allow Mysore to be another Bellary
The State Government's statement in Legislative Assembly on not allowing mining in Tiger Reserve Area of Bolegowdanakatte in Nanjangud taluk has failed in winning over environmentalists, farmers, elected representatives, who are preparing for launching a movement to force the Government to withdraw its decision of allowing mining activity in reserved forest area.
At a meeting here on Sunday called to discuss on the future course of action, the activists, farmers and elected representatives have decided to oppose mining activity both in Mysore and Chamarajanagar in toto.
There's a need to protect the ecology from the mining activity in the light of the plight of people in Bellary district.
Seven resolutions were passed, including creating awareness among the people in 30 villages which will be affected, in case of allowing mining and students in various educational institutions across the two districts.
Deadline of March 30 has been set for the Government to clear the air on the decision of mining activity in Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts, especially in Bolegowdanakatte forest area in Bandipur National Park. It has been decided to urge gram panchayats, taluk panchayat and zilla panchayat and Mysore City Corporation to adopt a resolution urging the Government to withdraw decision to allow mining in in the two districts and resolved to launch a postcard campaign against the decision.
A committee comprising leaders of farmers, people of the villages, environmentalists, NGOs and elected representatives has been called to take decision with regard to future course of action. It has been resolved to meet the swamijis of Suttur, Adichunchanagiri and Avadoota Datta Peeta and to request them to pressurise the Government against allowing mining.
Gowdike Chennappa, a farmer from Topegowdanapura sought to know why the Government, which was conducting "Grameena Dasara", was bent upon ruining rural life altogether.
Speaking on behalf of the people of the villages, he declared that farmers would fight till government declared that it would stop the mining in part of Mysore and Chamarajanagar.
Expressing his doubts on the genuineness of the Government's statement, Mr. Vishwanath said that the Government was trying to misguide the people. Allowing mining activity in the forest region was more dangerous than the Government's earlier plan of setting up a thermal power plant at Chamalapura. Bellary was the live example of what would happen if mining was allowed. "We should not allow the Government to convert Mysore into Bellary,' he said.
Plain truth about Bolegowdanakatte 'de-notification' mystery - Star of Mysore or SOM, Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The various Supreme Court decisions have made it amply clear that once a forest area comes under the purview of the Forest Conservation Act, no legislative power can change that status.
The controversy over the denotification of the Bolegowdanakatte forest by vested interests because it is supposed to be rich in mineral ores has still not died down. In all probability it will gain momentum with the Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Varma staying the mining project of the Obalapuram Mining Company, because it has encroached forest land and there is perceptive threat to the biota of the area.
SOM finds that Karnataka Home Minister Dr. V.S. Acharya has gone on record saying that the State can do what it wants if it was for the purpose of adding to State coffers.
There are several Supreme Court decisions that clearly state that mining areas cannot be converted at any cost and the Prime Minister himself has voiced concern about the mining dreams of the Karnataka State government.
SOM lays some of the Supreme Court decisions.:
a) T.N. Godavarman Thirmulkad Vs Union of India & Others ( Writ Petition No. 202 of 1995);
b) Centre for Environmental Laws (CEL) Vs Union of India and Others (Writ Petition No. 337 of 1995);
c) The Supreme Court has also passed a judgment in another case filed by environmental lawyer, M. C. Mehta, thus "%u2026 No National Park or Sanctuary can be deserved without the approval of the Supreme Court ";
d) SC order in Writ Petition No. 303 of 1995 that "we again reiterate that without compliance of the environmental laws in particular, permission under the FCA no permission can be given"
The 'vested' interests in the State Government had taken recourse to the fact that prior to 1941, this particular stretch of the Bolegowdanakatte was originally an area 'reserved' for mining by the English overlords.
After Independence and the setting up of various Forest Departments, soon enough the Karnataka Forest Development Corporation was given the brief to 'develop' this area.
By then the Bolegowdanakatte stretch had become a part and parcel of the forest area which in 1972 became a part of Bandipur Project Tiger Reserve Forest.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 came into force with effect from October 25, 1980. Under the provisions of this Act, prior approval of the Central Government is essential for diversion of forest lands for the non-forestry purposes. In the national interest and in the interest of future generations, this Act, therefore, regulates the diversion of forest lands to non-forestry purposes.
The basic objective of the Act is to regulate the indiscriminate diversion of forest lands for non-forestry uses and for conservation of natural heritage.
This is what the relevant Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, which was amended in 1988, says:
Restriction on the dereservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes.
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in a State, no State Government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing:
(i) that any reserved forest (within the meaning of the expression "reserved forest" in any law for the time being in force in that State) or any portion thereof, shall cease to be reserved.
As the Deputy Commissioner pointed out, there can be no mining in a Project Tiger Reserve at all. Secondly, no mining licenses have been given by the present government in Bolegowdanakatte area. This has been confirmed by SOM which made a search of all mining licenses issued so far and discovered none for Bolegowdanakatte Reserve Forest in Bandipur Project Tiger National Park.
Mining row: MGP says govt hasn't accorded permission Times of India Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 09.58pm IST
Amidst demands seeking the state government to clear the air on mining in the tiger reserve of Bandipur national park, the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) has contended that a portion of the forest has been dereserved for mining purpose. But the state government has not accorded permission for mining, it stated, adding another twist to the controversy.
Notwithstanding the contention of the deputy commissioner P Manivannan that there is no plan for mining at Bolegowdanakatte abutting the tiger reserve, anti-mining lobbyists led by Mysore MP H Vishwanth are seeking the BJP government to come clean on the issue. There is no dereserving of the land for mining and no NoC issued, the DC had stated.
The MGP pointing at the outcry against mining, said there are some common misconceptions about it. The state government, through a cabinet decision taken on February 20, dereserved a portion of the forest near Bolegowdanakatte for mining magnesite, it said. But it stated that the government has not given permission for mining and has no power to divert forest land for non-forestry use. It is the domain of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the MGP stated pointing out that the state government has no power to allow or disallow mining anywhere.
It stated that the MP, who is in the forefront of the anti-mining movement, can persuade the Congress-led UPA government not to dereserve forest land for mining and not to issue mining licences. This will solve the problem.
If still the state government proceeds in this direction on its own, legal avenues are available. The MGP stated that the SC and the high courts have time and again curbed such adventurism by state governments in the matter of mining.
Govt okayed mining in reserve forest Times of India, Thu, Apr 15
It is the mining lobby that influenced the BJP government to revive the junked proposal to mine in the forested area in Bolegowdanakatte. But the cabinet decision will not be implemented, since the forest is now part of the tiger reserve, former minister H S Mahadeva Prasad said on Thursday.
Giving a new spin to the controversy, the Congress MLA, who represents Gundlupet, where the mining area is located, said: "The mining lobby pushed through the old proposal, which was dropped in 2005. Their agenda was to get a hold of mining blocks elsewhere in the state. The file contained Omkara block in Bolegowdanakatte, which too was okayed without verifying the facts.'' Prasad was categorical that mining will not be taken up in the forested area.
The mining lobby's target was five other sites in the state. Since the file also contained Bolegowdanakatte, it was taken to the cabinet, which approved it under the influence of miners. But it was later realized that the land is notified as a tiger reserve, he explained. Prasad refused to name those who had influenced the government.
This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court / SC, President, Prime Minister / PM, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests / MoEF, Karnataka Governor, Chief Minister / CM and Karnataka Forest Department.