KARNATAKA

Sand mining affecting rivers in Kodagu

MADIKERI, MAY 27. No river in Kodagu appears to be safe from sand mining. Sand deposits are auctioned once a year and it fetches only a paltry sum to the authorities.

But sadly, the consequences of sand mining are yet to be realised. Neither the local people nor the environmental organisations have taken up cudgels against this menace in Kodagu, which is draining the riverbeds.

Of late, sand has been in great demand in Kodagu, thanks to the boom in construction activities. Sand deposited in the Cauvery, the Lakshmanateerta, the Harangi, the Hemavathi, and tributaries of the Cauvery are auctioned for mining.

However, there is the complaint that local people who bag the contract sell the sand to traders from Kerala as it fetches them more money. Sand mining is banned in Kerala.

The sand in riverbeds is considered crucial because even though rivers dry up, water percolates through the sand and recharges the water-table.

Removing sand from the riverbeds often creates huge craters and results in the caving in of the riverbeds.

Sand mining, if allowed for long, can have a detrimental effect on the environment, says C.P. Muthanna of the Environment and Health Foundation (India).

Using paddy fields for cultivating ginger is playing havoc as far as water conservation is concerned in Kodagu, he notes and adds that ginger cultivation has been banned in Kerala.

Large-scale use of paddy fields to grow ginger can have disastrous consequences on the water-table, says C.G. Kushalappa, Associate Professor, College of Forestry.

Auction

The practice of auctioning sand deposits has been in vogue in Kodagu for the past few years.

Earlier, the Department of Mines and Geology used to issue permits for sand mining. Now, the department, located in Mysore, is all set to auction sand deposits in Kodagu district from June 1 to 3.

The auction in Somwarpet covering sand deposits in the Cauvery, the Harangi and its tributaries at Guddehosur, Gummanakolli, Rasolipura, Bellur, Hosapatna, Nanjarayapatna, Virupakshapura, Jambur, Gargandur, Biligere, Basavanahalli, and Torenur, will begin at 11 a.m. on June 1. In Madikeri taluk, the auction covering Ikola, Kadiyatur, Betu, Napoklu, Bengur, Emmemadu, Kantur, and Balamuri, will begin at 11 a.m. the next day.

At Virajpet, the auction will cover Balymandur, Nidugumba, Nallur, Begur, Kongana, Mytadi, Kantur, and Eechur and will be held at 11 a.m. on June 3.

Sources in the office of the Senior Geologist, Mines and Geology Department, Mysore, said that the auctioning of sand mining rights was expected to fetch Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh.

Of the proceeds, half the amount was being given to the respective gram panchayats, they added.

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