KARNATAKA

Deve Gowda opposes closure of KIOCL

Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has said that Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. (KIOCL) should be allowed to continue mining at Kudremukh for some more time. The issue of whether mining in the area should be stopped as demanded by some or allowed to continue should be considered seriously in view of the naxalite influence in the Kudremukh National Park area, he said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The letter dated November 16, 2005, a copy of which Mr. Gowda released to the press here on Saturday, has urged the Prime Minister to intervene to prevent the closure of the company. "... I seek your personal intervention in the matter to advise the officials concerned in the Law Ministry as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forests to file an IA (interim application) before the Supreme Court based on the affidavit filed earlier and to engage the services of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General for getting an early hearing well before December 2005 so that stoppage can be avoided," it said.

"I have been keeping track of this company and its performance regularly. I have also visited their mine operations. The company has been doing exceedingly well in all its activities, preserving environment and ecology, apart from taking care of social obligations within the region in the fields of education, healthcare, social amenities. etc.

"It should, therefore, be our endeavour to save this company in the interests of the nation and the State and to protect the livelihood of 10,000 direct and indirect employees. The issue has become further more crucial in view of the serious naxalite menace in the Kudremukh National Park area, and any further unemployment of such a large magnitude will add several complications on this issue," the letter said.

If the company is closed, infrastructure created over the years, with a replacement value of about Rs. 4,000 crores, will become redundant, he said.

Review meeting

"I must compliment that your office took a review meeting with the ministries of Steel, Mines and Environment and suggested appropriate action by all concerned regarding defending the matter before the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court again directed on September 30, 2005, that no mining is permissible after December 31, 2005, and, therefore, the company's applications will be listed for hearing in January 2006."

"I must add that the Ministry of Environment and Forests filed an additional affidavit dated September 30, 2005, before the Supreme Court... supporting the petition of Kudremukh," the letter said.