Tapal Ganesh, who is fighting illegal mining, has urged the Ministry of Environment and Forests to verify the accuracy of the GPS coordinates readings of the mining leases provided at the time of submitting the proposal for renewal of mining leases, before according clearance for extraction of ore in the Bellary Reserve Forest area on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Ganesh said that Forest, Ecology and Environment Department, which has given its first stage clearance for renewal of mining lease in respect of N. Ratnaiah mines in Vitlapur of Sandur taluk, has sent it to the Ministry for its clearance,
Mr. Ganesh expressed doubts that the leased areas on the inter-State border were overlapping on adjoining leases after a survey was taken up in the Bellary Reserve Forest area by the Deputy Conservator of Forests of Bellary in 2008.
Mr. Ganesh has alleged that the coordinates had been changed during the survey resulting in the shifting of the mining areas, including the inter-State border inside Karnataka.
According to him, the Forest Department should have verified the GPS coordinates before forwarding the proposal to the Ministry for granting Forest clearance.
“In view of the 2008 survey and the coordinates allegedly changed, it was imperative for the Ministry to get the original GPS readings verified, using the latest technology to ensure that illegal mining had not taken place, before granting clearance to the renewal proposal sent to it by the Forest Department,” he said and added that he had written to Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment and Forests, drawing his attention to the facts at the ground level here.
Mr. Ganesh was of the view that there was no dispute among the mining lease holders in Sandur taluk, until Obulapuram Mining Company, owned by three Ministers, including G. Janardhan Reddy, got a lease in Malpanagudi in Andhra Pradesh, on the other side of the inter-State border, in 2007.
“To cover up the illegal mining activities and also encroachment of the area belonging to the State allegedly by Obulapuram Mining Company, Mr. Reddy got the survey conducted through the officials and changed the coordinates,” Mr. Ganesh alleged.
‘Coordinates may have been changed during survey resulting in shifting of mining areas'