His second and final report on mining to be released by month-end
“Despite the State Government's claims that export of iron ore has been banned in the State, illegal mining and export of iron ore is going on in Karnataka. If not through the West Coast, it is being carried out through the East Coast,” Lokayukta Santosh N. Hegde said here on Wednesday.
Speaking after releasing a documentary, “Please Bear With Us”, that throws light on the industrial and mining pressure on Daroji Bear Sanctuary in Bellary district, Mr. Hegde said that his second and final report on mining would be released by this month-end.
“Earlier, exports were done from Mangalore port, Karwar, Bilikere and Goa. There are some restrictions now from these areas. But iron ore is going now through Hagari border, to Visakhapatnam, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh,” he asserted. Stating that he had suggested a ban on export of iron ore in his first report on mining submitted to the Government in 2008, Mr. Hegde said: “Mining is of no use to the Government. The royalty that the Government earns through mining does not meet even 10 per cent of the expenses incurred on repair of the roads there.”
While mine owners paid Rs. 27 per tonne of 64 FE grade and Rs. 17 per tonne of lower grade iron ore, they sold it for Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 per tonne. They made profits by destroying environment and disturbing the peace of human beings as well as wild life, he said.
“Going by the way mining is being carried out in Bellary, it is apparent that iron ore will be available only for the next 25 to 30 years. The advent of new equipment now has helped the mine owners to extract three or four times more than what they were doing before. All these aspects will come out in my second report,” Mr. Hegde said.
He said the transportation of ore in open vehicles was causing a problem to both human beings and animals. “I have studied the problem in Bellary while I was preparing the report. People in Sandur have told me to give them cyanide instead of allowing them to die slowly. But the mine owners do not understand this as they do not stay there,” he said.
Lauding the documentary that shows how the Asian sloth bear in the Daroji Bear Sanctuary has become mute witness to the ongoing mining activities in Bellary, Mr. Hegde said: “The disease of greed over need is going out of bounds. The bears in the sanctuary are being denied of their peace. If the activities are not stopped at least now, we may have to live without animals which is not possible.”
Suresh Misra, professor and chair of the Centre for Consumer Studies at Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, called for building public opinion on such issues. “We have now realised that mining is a move towards destruction. If the State itself becomes a property dealer, it is a dangerous trend and it is unfortunate that this is what is happening in Karnataka,” he said.
Writer Chandrashekar Kambar and Maya Jaideep and Kestur Vasuki, who have made the documentary, were present.