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Andolan seeks restoration of ban on mining at Ambargudda

Special Correspondent

Eight-week interim stay order given by High Court expires

  • Agitation in March and May last year leads to stopping of mining operations of Andhra Pradesh-based company
  • Sri Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swamiji of Sri Ramachandrapur Mutt led the agitation
  • Following High Court order, the Director of Mines and Geology allows mining till July 27
  • Andolan has accused mining company of giving wrong information in High Court

    SHIMOGA: The Vriksha Laksha Andolan, an environmental organisation, has urged the Government to revalidate its order banning mining operations at Ambargudda in Hosnagar taluk of Shimoga district as the eight-week interim stay given by the High Court of Karnataka against the ban order has expired.

    Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the Andolan convenor, Ananth Hegde Ashishar, appealed to the Government, the Director of Mines and Geology and the district administration not to allow mining operations at Ambaragudda which forms part of the environmentally fragile Western Ghats.

    He said mining operations by a Andhra Pradesh-based mining company were stopped following a sustained agitation by environmentalists between March and May last year under the leadership of Sri Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swamiji of the Sri Ramachandrapur Mutt.

    Mr. Hegde said the chief of the mining company filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking permission for mining operations in the area which was granted by the court for eight weeks.

    In view of this interim order, the Director of Mines and Geology allowed the company to take up mining operations only till June 27. "Now that the interim stay for eight weeks against the Government Order has expired, the ban order on mining operations should be reintroduced immediately," he said.

    Alleging that the mining company had furnished wrong information to the High Court while obtaining the interim stay against the Government Order, Mr. Hegde said that it had made baseless and serious charges against Sri Raghaveshwara Swamiji and some newspapers.

    He said his organisation was thinking of filing a defamation suit against the company.

    He said the company had wrongly claimed in its petition before the High Court that the Deputy Commissioner had banned mining operations at Ambaragudda without visiting the spot, that Ambaragudda did not form part of the Western Ghats and that the area is a barren land.

    He said the Government, which was the main defendant in the case, failed to convince the court why mining operations should be banned near Kodachadri considering the serious impact on the ecology.

    Mr. Hegde added that the Director of Mines and Geology had in his order on April 6 said, "the Shimoga Deputy Commissioner has in his report recommended the banning of mining operations. Besides, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the Chief Principal Conservator of Forest and Karnataka Power Corporation Limited have said that mining operations should not be allowed at Ambaragudda."

    Legal opinion

    He said an opinion was being sought from legal experts for taking the next course of action. The Andolan not only revealed the extent of damage to the forest and other natural resources in the area through its independent study but also launched an agitation under the leadership of the swamiji when mining operations were taken up in April last year.

    He said the swamiji had set up "Kodachadri Sanjivini", a forum to spearhead the activities against mining operations in the region.

    He said a team of the Central Forest and Environment Ministry visited Kodachadri to assess the damage caused by mining operations.

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