KARNATAKA

Panel to monitor industries’ adherence to environmental laws

The government will set up an official committee to monitor adherence to environmental laws by factories and industries in the State.

Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment B. Ramanath Rai said the proposed committee, comprising officials of the department, would visit industrial areas and conduct inspections of small, medium and large-scale industries in the private and public sector.

The committee would be formed after consultations with the Principal Secretary and chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). The panel will be asked to submit a report to him and further action would be taken against factories found violating ecological laws, he said.

The panel will also monitor functioning of field-level officers of the KSPCB in various districts and industrial areas, Mr. Rai said.

Stone crushing

The Minister defended the State Cabinet’s decision to grant permission to units located within 100 m of the forest boundary to resume stone crushing. Shortage of crushed stones was the major reason for giving the nod, he said.

He added that the units were located outside the forest areas. The decision would not pose any threat to wildlife or forests. Several districts, including Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada, have been facing severe shortage of crushed stones and development works had come to a standstill.

Social forestry

Mr. Rai said he met a few industrialists in Mangalore recently and appealed to them to take up social forestry in one or two acres of forest land, which would increase green cover in the State.

To a query on forest lands granted on lease to families in Kodagu and Chikmagalur districts several years ago, he said coffee and rubber plantations have come up on leased forests lands. On the completion of the lease period, the department proposes to take back the land, he said.