Karnataka

KIOCL ordered to terminate work on resort in Kundremukh National Park

: The embattled Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) has run into trouble after it was ordered to terminate its plans to convert under-utilised buildings in the Kudremukh National Park (KNP) into a resort. The step comes as a relief for wildlife activists who questioned the legality of running a commercial resort in the core area of the park, where the government runs rehabilitation programmes for forest dwellers. Though coming within the National Park limits, KIOCL had hoped to capitalise on the 281-acre property, unused since the closure of the mines in 2006.

Guidelines violated

Additional Chief Secretary (ACS-Forest, Ecology and Environment) T.M. Vijay Bhaskar, in his order on October 26, called KIOCL’s plans a violation of numerous Supreme Court judgements, and of the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Following this, the Forest Department on Thursday directed the immediate stop of work at the KIOCL resort, and that no further resorts would come up in the eco-sensitive forests.

In April 2015, KIOCL had — to the chagrin of activists — issued a work order to Alvas Kudremukh Nisargadhama for refurbishing the Sahyadri Guest House and 30 ‘D’ group staff quarters as a resort within the Kudremukh township.

Improper course

Praveen Bharghav and K.M. Chinappa from Wildlife First, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court, which on July 22 directed the ACS to “pass a reasoned and speaking order...within a period of four months” after hearing all sides.

In his order, Mr. Bhaskar notes that there was no environmental clearance obtained for the project (the resort comes well within KNP’s eco-sensitive zone), while KIOCL did not take action to close down the commercial resort even after a letter from the Notified Area Committee, Kudremukh, directing the closure of the guest house. “The proper course for KIOCL would have been to terminate the contract...[but] the Work Order continues to be in force and, thereby, the violation of Eco Sensitive Zone continues,” notes the order, which says that any plans for eco-tourism must be approved by the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee.

The options are limited for the cash-strapped KIOCL, which has been struggling since its mining operations were ordered shut in 2002. Alvas has reportedly spent Rs. 2 crore on renovation works. KIOCL officials said they were awaiting further directions from the Forest Department on the closure.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 3:42:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/KIOCL-ordered-to-terminate-work-on-resort-in-Kundremukh-National-Park/article16442982.ece

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