Special Correspondent

Land in villages at foot of mountain has lost its fertility

Shimoga: A team of experts of forest and environment sciences has said that mining should not be permitted in the Ambaragudda range in the Western Ghats region in Shimoga district.

The experts from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Department of Mines and Geology, the Wildlife Division of the Forest Department, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Institute of Environmental Sciences came to this conclusion after a visit to the Ambaragudda range on Tuesday.

The team, led by Chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force Anant Hegde Ashisar and Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey, visited the mining areas at Ambaragudda.

According to officials, “Ambaragudda, which is near the Mookambika Reserve Forest and surrounded by the Nagodi, the Yennehole and the Sharavathy rivers, will be affected if mining is allowed there.”

The Deputy Commissioner said that mining operations were being carried out at Ambaragudda as the region belonged to the Department of Revenue. He felt that it could be transferred to the Department of Forests if the mining activities were to be kept under check. He said he had sought a report from the Department of Mines and Geology on this. “I will send my report to the Government based on the findings of the Department of Mines and Geology,” Mr. Pandey said.

It was explained to the team members that the upper layer of the soil in Ambaragudda had been eroded as a result of “unscientific” mining while the ore-contaminated soil affected the fertility of the land in several villages at the foot of the mountain.

The village residents pointed out that silt arising out of mining will accumulate in the reservoir of the Linganamakki Reservoir, the main feeder of the Sharavathy Hydel Power Project, leading to a drop in water storage capacity.

Mr. Ashisar said the backwaters of the Sharavathy had a treasure of rare types of fish while a wide range of forest trees and creepers were found in the evergreen forests in the region which also boasted of rich medicinal plants. The threat posed to the Sharavathy valley on account of mining in the region will be brought to the notice of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited.