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Illegal mining devastated biodiversity: study

Special Correspondent
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Plunder of wealth: A view of a mining area at Ramgadh near Sandur in Bellary district. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Plunder of wealth: A view of a mining area at Ramgadh near Sandur in Bellary district. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), which carried out a macro-level Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study of Bellary district, following a direction of the Supreme Court, has established that “rampant, unauthorised and unregulated mining in Bellary district has had a devastating impact on the biodiversity, besides adverse impacts on health and well-being”.

The study, which was carried out in collaboration with Forest Survey of India and the Wildlife and Institute of India, observed that both large and small mining leases had affected the biodiversity of Bellary in different ways. “A large number of mines in the Bellary district have violated norms, besides encroaching upon the adjacent lands illegally and damaging the ecology in the process,” the report stated.

Noting that illegal mining had taken place in an area of 43 sq km, the report accused mine owners of encroaching upon the adjoining areas for mining and dumping ore, and directed the State Government to direct mine owners to pay for damaging the environment caused.

The report said that the leniency of Director-General of Mine Safety resulted in environmental devastation, mostly on hilltops that are prone to erosion.

Suggesting a scientific and effective mining regulatory mechanism to prevent unsustainable mining in future, the report said that renewal of mining leases in future should compulsorily be based on an independent environmental audit report of the mine.

Another suggestion made was the use of modern technology for sustainable mining.

The report also underlined the need to commission a feasibility study to bring in superior underground mining technology which are more environment friendly in the Western Ghats.

It also suggested on having an independent assessment of ore reserve in individual mines and stringent review of environmental safeguards before raising limits of annual extraction of ore.

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