Karnataka

Karnataka to follow Narmada dam model to save Krishnaraja Sagar

Baby Hills, where extensive stone quarrying has left an indelible impact, is one of the quarrying units in the vicinity of Krishnaraja Sagar in Mandya district.

Baby Hills, where extensive stone quarrying has left an indelible impact, is one of the quarrying units in the vicinity of Krishnaraja Sagar in Mandya district.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

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Even as Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Sunday evening directed the Mines and Geology Department to stop quarrying in the vicinity of Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) in Mandya district in view of the dam’s safety, the State government is set to impose a blanket ban on blasting near the reservoir, on the lines of the measures implemented to save the Sardar Sarovar dam constructed across the Narmada river in Gujarat.

A communiqué from the Chief Minister’s Office said that officials have been directed to file a report after stopping quarrying.

Consequent to loud hollow sounds and vibrations frequently being experienced in the vicinity of the historical reservoir, which is the lifeline of several districts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Mandya district administration recently recommended to the State government to declare areas around KRS as coming under a “non-blasting zone”.

“The State government will probably publish a gazette notification imposing a blanket ban on blasting and mining in a 10-km radius of the KRS,” Mandya Deputy Commissioner M.V. Venkatesh said on Sunday.

National importance

According to Mr. Venkatesh, three major points prompted the district administration to seek a ban on all kinds of explosions around KRS. For one, the reservoir was considered a “structure of national importance”. Second was a study by Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) detecting the origin of two quarry blasting signatures (tremors caused by quarrying) which jolted the district near KRS on September 25, 2018. And thirdly, the ban on using explosives in the surroundings of Sardar Sarovar dam.

While the restrictions are in force in a 5-km radius of Sardar Sarovar dam, the Mandya district administration has proposed that the limit for KRS be 10 km.

“There are 30 quarrying units in a 10-km radius of the KRS,” Mr. Venkatesh said.

Subsequent to the two quarry blasting signatures in 2018, the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation was asked to examine the ground vibrations that could potentially damage the reservoir. A technical team visited various places in the reservoir’s vicinity and analysed the data recorded at the VSAT-enabled Permanent Seismic Monitoring Stations at the KRS, established by the KSNDMC in September 2018.

“A team from the National Institute of Rock Mechanics had planned to conduct ‘continuous trial blasts’ to monitor ground vibrations [due to explosions at nearby stone quarries]. Nevertheless, a ‘go back campaign’ was organised against the team,” a senior officer said.

Political connections

A little over 65 stone extraction units function in a radius of 15 km to 20 km of KRS. Of them, many belong to operators closely associated with political leaders. They allegedly violate safety regulations, besides illegally and unscientifically conducting high-density explosions.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 4:33:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-to-follow-narmada-dam-model-to-save-krishnaraja-sagar/article30487894.ece

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