Mining and its aftermath

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Iron ore was discovered in Kudremukh in 1913, when P. Sampath Iyengar, a geologist from Mysore, set out on a quest for the mineral.  As he rode along the Bhadra River he noticed that fine particles of ore had adhered to his horse’s shoes. Following the trail, he finally reached the Aroli range of hills and discovered Kudremukh’s iron-ore deposits. However, full-scale mining operations only began decades later, when the Iranian government, under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — the Shah of … Read More

Bhadra River Recovering after Stoppage of Mining in Kudremukh

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The picture of the Bhadra River on the left loaded with silt after a heavy rainstorm was taken on 30th September 2002, during an inspection by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) as ordered by the Supreme Court. The photo on the right, showing the clear waters of the Bhadra River was taken on 18th October 2010, again after a heavy rainstorm, from the same location, five years after mining was stopped by the Apex Court based on a petition filed … Read More

Precious Wayanad in Peril

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Wayanad is home to Edakkal Caves, a group of ancient, natural caves, with stone age carvings believed to be around 8000 years old. Located amidst the precious Western Ghats, the huge rocky hills near Edakkal now face the threat of several illegal quarries that blast the hills off to feed the market for sand and gravel. Uncontrolled tourism is also adding to the environmental degradation. Tourists who come from every part of the country litter plastic bags and beer bottles, … Read More

Developmental Activities Have ‘Seriously Impacted’ Districts Of Ratnagiri And Sindhudurg, Says Expert Panel

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The entire districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in southern Maharashtra have been “seriously impacted, both environmentally and socially, by a number of mining, power projects and polluting industries”, says a report submitted by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). The impacts mentioned include pollution (noise, air and ground water), depletion of fisheries, deforestation, siltation of water bodies and “loss of unique biodiversity elements”, among many others. The report claims that there are also numerous illegal activities in these areas … Read More

Government Admits Possible Excessive Diversion Of Forests For Mining

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The government admitted in the Lok Sabha that it could have allowed excessive diversion of forests for mining activities. But it gave an assurance that it will strictly adhere to ‘go and no-go areas’ and not permit exploitation of dense woods. Maneka Gandhi of the BJP had alleged during Question Hour that the government had cut down one lakh hectare of forests for mining and 30,000 hectare of this was during the tenure of environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh. … Read More

CEC Report Calls Mining in Chitradurga and Tumkur Illegal and Irresponsible

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The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court, submitted a report that agrees with the Karnataka Lokayukta in calling the iron ore mining in Chitradurga and Tumkur districts as illegal and irresponsible. The amicus curiae, A D N Rao has said that the adverse effects in both districts were identical to the one witnessed in Bellary and has advocated that mining be controlled by the apex court, as it was done in Bellary. The court has issued a … Read More

Supreme Court Suspends Mining in Bellary, Karnataka

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The Supreme Court suspended mining in 10,868 hectares in Bellary district of Karnataka. The court also said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests will come out with a report on how much Iron ore is needed for the country’s steel industry and also spell out how much is to be domestic and how much needs to be imported. The bench’s decision came after a report from the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) that said that illegal mining was not only … Read More

Immense Environmental Toll of Coal Mining in India

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Coal mining threatens many of India’s sensitive wildlife habitats as the coal ministry is pressing the Ministry of Environment and Forests for access to even more forested areas. In 2009, the ministry had categorized 203 coal blocks as no-go areas. However, early this year it agreed to relax the no-go constraint on 53-percent of these areas, apparently under pressure from the coal ministry. Under a later meeting in April, this rose to 71-percent of the reserved areas and apparently, under … Read More

Mining in the hills

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Quarrying for stone and granite (mostly illegal) is a typical sight in many hilly areas and cause disastrous and irreversible changes to natural habitats. Those engaged in illegal mining are typically businessmen who operate with the tacit support of certain corrupt elements in local village offices, the police and the mining and geology department. They hire migrant labourers and use unlawfully procured explosives to blast rock formations in ecologically sensitive areas without government permission. The racketeers use politically influential goondas … Read More

Supreme Court Sets up Team to Resurvey Mining Leases in Bellary-Hospet Forests

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There are 99 mining leases in the Bellary-Hospet forest region of Karnataka with allegations of encroachments and illegal mining outside the demarcations. Rapping the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) for not carrying the previous survey properly, the Supreme Court formed a new team comprised of representatives from the CEC, the Forest and Mines and Geology departments of the State Government and the Karanataka Lokayukta. The team would conduct fresh surveys of all 99 leased mines and if any encroachment was found, … Read More

Illegal laterite mining threatens Sagar forests

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Rampant and illegal laterite mining is reported from the Sagar Taluk in Shimoga, Karnataka. An RTI application with the Department of Mines and Geology reveals that permission has been accorded to mine only one and half acres across three villages. However, there are 200 illegal quarries reported in the Sagar Taluk operating on one hundred acres of land. Almost 50 truckloads of laterite blocks leave the Sagar Taluk on a daily basis. Most quarries are said to operate in forest … Read More

Bhadra River recovering from siltation impact after stoppage of Mining in Kudremukh

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The picture of the Bhadra River on the top loaded with silt after a heavy rainstorm was taken on 30th September, 2002 during the inspection by the Central Empowered Committee as ordered by the Supreme Court. The picture below showing the clear waters of the Bhadra River was taken on 18th October 2010 after a heavy rainstorm from the same location, five years after mining was stopped by the Apex Court based on a petition filed by Wildlife First. This … Read More

Centre rejects Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mining proposal

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NEW DELHI: The Union environment and forests ministry on Tuesday rejected the clearance for Orissa Mining Corporation to mine Niyamgiri hills for Vedanta’s aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh. The rejection is the most drastic of the measures taken by the government, which has generated the impression that noose could be tigthening around Anil Agarwal’s $1.7 billion operations in Orissa. The MoEF has decided to slap a showcause notice on the aluminium czar, asking why his refinery unit should not be denied … Read More

Frontline of a New War: Environmentalists Under Threat

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‘Amit Jethwa shot dead’ read the SMS received at about 9 pm on July 21st. I did not know him personally, but I knew Amit,  activist, and warrior for any ecological cause — be it the case of an elephant being treated cruelly in a circus or illegal mining in Kodinar bordering Gir or protesting against a shipyard that would impact the nesting of olive ridley turtles. It was a sleepless night, and I spent most of it trying to … Read More

The Kudremukh Saga — A Triumph for Conservation

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December 31st, 2005 was an environmentally historic day that went virtually unnoticed, even by most environmentalists.  It was the day on which a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India took effect, bringing the curtain down on a mining operation that was causing havoc in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.  The Supreme Court’s order was all the more remarkable because what was closed down was no two-bit operation but a massive, government-owned, export-oriented, profit making mining operation of the Read More

Tadoba Troubled

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The sambar, a male stag sporting impressive antlers, stood submerged in the water, pondering over his—extremely limited—choices. His leg, bleeding, broken was giving way—he could see the beady eye of the crocodile come close, closer. He knew there was a tiger, somewhere, not far from the bank, well-camouflaged in the tall grasses. He sniffed the air, peered. Maybe not? Then heaved himself out, and oh-so-cautiously stepped out of the water, lifting one wary foot after the other…when they swiftly arose: … Read More